A couple died while lying next to each other inside their home as a powerful tornado ripped through Mt. Juliet, Tennessee, on Tuesday.
James Eaton, 84, and his wife, Donna, 81, died alongside each other on a mattress thrown off their bed when a tornado leveled their home on Catalpa Drive that morning, according to the Nashville Tennessean.
“About as close as you can get,” Mt. Juliet Police Department Capt. Tyler Chandler said of the couple who had been married for 58 years.
The department offered condolences to the Eaton’s friends and family Tuesday on Facebook, and also to those of the third victim, 38-year-old security worker Brandy Barker.
The couple’s 24-year-old grandson, Jake Hardy-Moore, said his grandparent’s relationship was “the best earthly example of what a marriage should look like.”
“They showed Christ’s love and his sacrifice. They both loved our families through challenging times of life. They were the ones we looked to when times were difficult, and they kept us pointed toward God and to be dependent on God,” he recalled.
The Eaton’s had been members of First Baptist Church Mt. Juliet for the past 40 years, where James accompanied Pastoral Care and Senior Adult Pastor David Fallin on hospital visits and helped run the church coffee bar on Sundays.
Donna, a retired business manager at the church, helped with office responsibilities on a regular basis.
“The Eatons represented the very best of First Baptist,” Pastor Phillip Dunn noted.
“To know that they were taken from us so quickly in a storm shocks all of us. We can also rest assured that Jim and Donna loved Christ and woke up with their faith becoming sight,” he concluded.
Following the storms Wednesday, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee announced that flags flying over the state Capitol building would be flown at half-staff until Friday to honor the victims.
Our hearts are with the families across TN facing devastation and heartbreak after deadly tornadoes struck our communities. In memory of the many lives lost, flags over the Capitol will fly at half-staff until Friday. Maria and I continue to send our prayers across the state. pic.twitter.com/zf97KJ4omt
— Governor Bill Lee (@GovBillLee) March 4, 2020