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  In Memoriam



William A. Eagan Jr.
Oct. 12, 2003

William A. Eagan Jr. '49William A. Eagan Jr., who worked many years in the retail industry and served as a Holy Cross Trustee, died Oct. 12 at his home in Wellesley, Mass., of cancer, at 76.

Entering its executive training program in 1949, Mr. Eagan had been employed by the Jordan Marsh & Co. department store for 33 years. After serving five years as a glove buyer, he became a merchandising manager and, later, an executive vice president for merchandising. Following his retirement from the company, Mr. Eagan joined LeeJay Bed & Bath, directing the company’s expansion until the mid-1990s. He later worked as a consultant to many expanding regional retail stores, including the Christmas Tree Shops.

Active in College affairs, Mr. Eagan had been a member of the Holy Cross Board of Trustees from 1976–84. In addition to serving on the College’s Committee for Athletic Review, he had been a member of the President’s Council at Holy Cross and a Holy Cross class agent. Mr. Eagan had also been involved for many years with the activities of the Holy Cross Club of Boston. In 1990, the General Alumni Association presented him with its In Hoc Signo Award.

During his career, Mr. Eagan had been a member of the Finance Committee for the town of Wellesley and a member of the board of Fetco, a frame company in Randolph, Mass.

A Navy veteran of World War II, he served on the bridge of the aircraft carrier, the USS Princeton.

Mr. Eagan is survived by his wife, Constance; two sons, William A. III ’77 and Christopher J. ’80; four daughters, including Mary Ellen ’75, Constance A. ’81 and Gail P. ’87; daughter-in-law Ann Halleron ’87; two brothers, Richard E. ’50 and Robert K. ’57; 10 grandchildren; and many nephews and nieces.

Holy Cross president, Rev. Michael C. McFarland, S.J., shares the following remembrance of William Eagan:

From his first days on the Hill, Bill Eagan’s classmates expected great things from him. As they noted in the Class of 1949 yearbook, he was an outstanding student with a keen sense of fairness and a tremendous work ethic. Bill applied those and his many other fine qualities, including his unfailing graciousness, to his personal and professional lives during the five decades that followed his graduation. For me, a relative newcomer, Bill symbolized the best of the past, the present and the potential of Holy Cross. He always was interested in the welfare of our students and the College. He often sent articles that he thought would be of interest or benefit, and they were both. It was a privilege to know him.

Bill Eagan was a man of great integrity who served his classmates as an especially active and well-informed class agent. He also served the College as a wise and effective two-term Trustee during a time of great transition and expansion in the late 1970s and early 1980s. A graduate of the all-male Holy Cross, Bill proudly watched three of his daughters and his two sons graduate from his alma mater. Bill was a bridge to the new coeducational Holy Cross, a passionate alumnus who helped preserve the character and mission of the College while helping it to move forward.

An In Hoc Signo Award recipient for his dedication and devotion to Holy Cross, he devoted himself to what he held dear—his faith, his family, his country and his alma mater—and had great success in each of those areas. He was an exemplary Crusader, who left a proud legacy of love and loyalty to his Holy Cross family.

Rev. John E. Brooks, S.J., ’49, Holy Cross president emeritus, offers the following tribute upon the death of Mr. Eagan:

Bill Eagan, a classmate and friend, was a man to be respected and admired. There is not a member of the Class of 1949 who is not aware that his life has been graced by way of his association with Bill.

Bill knew well that what’s important in life is that there can be no vigorous spirituality without discipline, without a certain hardness against oneself, without making demands on oneself.

Upon graduating from Holy Cross, Bill was recruited to work in a demanding and grueling business environment where the competition alone must have tempted him on occasion to wonder just how far he might advance while continuing to adhere to the lofty ethical values which were so much a part of his character. But Bill was a master of the Catholic life and, doing things his way, he became immensely successful in business.

Like all of us, Bill’s spiritual odyssey encountered unexpected obstacles along the way including ultimately, in his case, an inoperable illness and confrontation with death. Throughout it all, Bill lived an authentic Christ-like life. A genuinely loving husband and father and an ever loyal son of Holy Cross, he lived his final days on the verge of death just as he had lived his entire life—loving, accepting, praying, hoping and believing in his Risen Lord. In God’s Kingdom, Bill Eagan’s life will be rich.

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