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James and Melanie Eason


A celebration of life service for James Stephen Eason and Melanie Jo Holder Eason will be held at 10:00 a.m. on Friday, February 9, 2024 at Centenary United Methodist Church with Rev. John Hiller and Phil Jones officiating.    

Mr. Eason passed away on Friday, January 26, 2024 and being as close in death as they were in life, Mrs. Eason passed away five days later on January 31, 2024. 

Arrangements are under the direction of Lawton Ritter Gray Funeral Home.

James Stephen Eason was born on May 9, 1949, in Oklahoma City to Gerald and Marian Eason, older sister Janet and younger brother Douglas. Jim graduated from Harding High School in 1967, attended the University of Oklahoma, majoring in accounting and earned a BBA in 1971. Jim began his professional career as a CPA before joining his father’s newly acquired Coors distributorship in Lawton, Oklahoma, Southwest Sales, Inc. 

Melanie Jo Holder was born on the 5th of August, 1949 in Van Buren, Arkansas, to Muriel and Phil Holder. Melanie’s vibrant spirit emerged early as she began dancing at a young age, and head cheerleader for Southside High School in Fort Smith. Melanie spent a year at Lindenwood Girls College, and earned a teaching degree from University of Oklahoma in 1971.

Jim and Melanie met during their time at OU, and the couple married in August of 1970. They were blessed with three children: son Stephen Scott in 1978, daughter Emily Joanna in January 1981, and Katherine Megan in November 1981. The couple delighted in attending their children's sporting events and performances. Their love for family extended to their granddaughters, Madeline and Mia, daughter of Katy and her husband Patrick Dunn, who were the apples of their Meme and Poppa's eye.

Southwest Sales thrived Under Jim's leadership, securing a substantial market share and expanding into Altus and Ardmore. Jim’s positive work ethic enabled him to recruit and retain a talented  team of associates that included his son Scott and dear friend and general manager, Kevin Ezell. Southwest Sales received multiple accolades, including the Coors Award of Excellence and the Coors President’s Award. Jim was instrumental in creating brewery’s co-op program; he served as the Oklahoma Malt Beverage Association chairman; and was Oklahoma’s National Beer Wholesalers Association representative.  Southwest Sales supported many of Lawton’s signature events including Lawton Rangers Rodeo, the Ft. Sill annual Fourth of July Celebration, March of Dimes, and sponsored Coors Light pool shootout tournaments for more than 32 years. 
Jim served on many boards with longstanding impact for Lawton, including chairing the Chamber of Commerce Military Affairs Committee, serving as the Association United States Army President, Crime Stoppers president and member of the board, Salvation Army chairman and board member, Lawton Rotary, original member of Cameron University President’s Partners, Cameron University Foundation board member and United Way supporter. Melanie was not only a devoted mother but had a passion for volunteerism, devoting her time and heart to various community organizations including  president  of Junior League and state representative for P.E.O. Women’s Organization. Jim and Melanie were longtime active members of Centenary United Methodist Church. 

In the face of health challenges, Jim and Melanie's love endured celebrating 53 years of marriage. Jim supported Melanie during her stem cell transplant and her courageous battle with myelofibrosis, and when he was diagnosed with glioblastoma in early 2023, their family rallied around them and provided full time care. 

In lieu of flowers, the family request that memorial contributions be made to the Hometown Fund of the Salvation Army of Lawton, a charity loved and generously supported by the entire Eason Family.     


Funeral Service
February 9, 2024

10:00 AM
Centenary United Methodist Church
704 SW D Ave
Lawton, OK


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