Marion Elizabeth Eason Endowed Scholarship for the Study of Biology
The Marion Elizabeth Eason Endowed Scholarship for the Study of Biology was established by the Board of Regents of The University of Texas System, for the benefit of the Department of Biology of UT Austin’s College of Natural Sciences. Gift funds were provided by Marion Wier DeFord.
Marion Eason is described by those who knew her as a fascinating combination of leadership, clarity, compassion, and fairness. She was born in Anaco, Venezuela, in 1952, while her parents John and Marjorie worked overseas. Her family later relocated to Houston, Texas, where Eason was raised with her older brother, John, and younger brother, Erik.
As a child she loved both large and small animals, especially horses, and wanted to become a veterinarian. Her family recalls taking in a host of pets that, somehow, “followed Marion home.” Though Eason chose a different career path, she and her husband, Lt. Col. Richard Souder, raised and rode Morgan horses for 15 years at their horse farms in Virginia and North Carolina, and also welcomed numerous cats and dogs.
After graduating from The University of Texas at Austin in 1975 with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology, she joined the Marine Corps as an officer, rising to Captain and her final posting was as the assistant comptroller of Camp Lejeune. Eason had a knack for knowing what motivated her troops and was exceptional at fostering their best attributes. She encouraged and championed advancement and they knew they had her unwavering support. In return, her family could see the awe-inspiring loyalty of her troops. The Marines under her command rendered invaluable service to our country out of respect for her and for the Marine Corps.
At the age of 38, Eason was diagnosed with breast cancer. She went through a long, arduous struggle with many difficult procedures and therapies, yet she kept her sense of optimism, humor, and leadership. While in the hospital, Eason would walk the halls with her oxygen tank on wheels (that she named Frank) to visit the other women in the ward, bringing them encouragement and good cheer. Near the end of her battle with cancer, she agreed to take one more experimental drug knowing her chances of survival were slim. She did so because it was a chance to change the world: she felt her decision could potentially help other women in the future. For this and many other reasons, Eason remains an inspiration to her family and a host of others.
Marion Eason passed away in 1995, just before her forty-third birthday. On her headstone her family engraved a phrase that they believe illuminates her ideals and connection to nature: She measured time by the passage of butterflies.
Her legacy will not fade over time. She will be celebrated by generations of students who will be given opportunities to become their best selves and, like her, do their part to change the world.