Robert Henry Easterly, 95, a native of Bradley County and widely-known locally, died Tuesday morning, March 29, 2011, peacefully at his home, Triple Creek Farm, in Black Fox.
As a young man, he began working for Summerfield Johnson at Bendabout Farm. There he learned to play polo and became a rated polo player. He played for the Bendabout Polo Team for years in matches throughout the Southeast. He is the only person inducted into the Bradley County Old Timers Hall of Fame in the category of polo.
During World War II, he was employed at the Volunteer Army Ammunition Plant in Chattanooga. After the War, in 1946, he started a floor covering company in downtown Cleveland; divisions of the original business continue to operate and are run by family members.
In 2008, MainStreet Cleveland recognized him for his contributions to the beautification and preservation of downtown Cleveland.
He served as Bradley County clerk before being appointed by President Lyndon Johnson to be postmaster of Cleveland. While serving as postmaster, he was one of 12 postmasters across the United States who was personally recognized by the Postmaster General at ceremonies in Washington, D.C., for beautification efforts undertaken at their facilities under an initiative started by Lady Bird Johnson.
He served as postmaster for 16 years and retired in 1980 to devote time and attention to his family, the community and his friends.
He was a member of First Baptist Church for 60 years and spent many of those as a deacon of the church. A highlight of every church year was the picnic First Baptist held for its membership at Triple Creek Farm. He and Mildred Easterly readily lent the use of farm and it was the site of many weddings and other community events.
He was the oldest member of the Cleveland Kiwanis Club and a past president of that organization.
He was a member of the City Farmers’ Club and Cleveland-Bradley Chamber of Commerce. He was president of the latter organization when it recruited several new industries to Bradley County, including Bendix.
He was a director of the Cleveland Bank & Trust and served as the board’s representative to the contractor during the construction of the bank’s main office on Raider Drive.
He also was a trustee of the Cleveland State Community College Foundation; a 33rd-Degree Mason and past master of Cleveland Lodge No. 134 F&AM; a member of the Alhambra Shrine for more than 50 years; and a member of the Scottish Rite of Chattanooga. He was a director of the United Way of Bradley County and chaired the United Way Campaign.
He was a storehouse of information and a source of wonderful stories about politics, places and personalities in Bradley County history. His neighbors fondly referred him to as “The mayor of Black Fox.”
He was predeceased by his parents, Henry Grady Shannon Easterly and Virgie Hayes Easterly; stepmother, Ethel Horner Easterly; brothers: Roy Easterly and Joe Easterly; sister, Elizabeth Whitaker; stepsister, Lucille Seals; and stepbrother, Taylor Horner.
He is survived by his wife, Mildred Ervin Easterly. The couple married on Bob’s birthday, Nov. 8, 1939, and celebrated his 95th birthday and their 71st wedding anniversary at a luncheon at the Cleveland-Bradley Chamber of Commerce last fall.
They have four children: Jack Easterly and wife, LaVerne, Phyllis Callaway and husband, Mike, Jane Easterly and Bob Quinn, and Robert Easterly Jr. of Lenoir City; grandchildren: Coleman Easterly and wife, Katherine, of Crozet, Va., Alan Easterly and wife, Lee, of Lookout Mountain, Lynda Easterly Bryant and husband, Pat, of Knoxville, Libby Callaway of Nashville, Marie Callaway and her fiancé, Jeff Kellner, of Boise, Idaho, Millie Callaway of Nashville, Forrest Easterly and Hannah Easterly, both of Lenoir City; great-grandchildren: (Coleman) Jack and Clay Easterly of Crozet, (Alan) Ellie, Margaret and Ben Easterly, all of Lookout Mountain, and (Lynda) Stanley, Spencer and Annie Bryant, all of Knoxville; brother, Wallace Easterly of Cinnaminson, N.J.; stepsister, Nora Clonts of Apison; and several nieces, nephews and cousins.
The funeral will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, April 2, 2011, at the new location of First Baptist Church, 1275 Stuart Road, with the Rev. Jim Gibson and the Rev. Rusty Asble officiating.
Interment will follow at Fort Hill Cemetery with his grandsons and great-grandsons serving as pallbearers.
The family will receive friends from 3 to 8 this evening at the new location of First Baptist Church.
The family encourages those who wish to make memorial contributions to give to any of the following, all of which he supported: The Manna Ministry, First Baptist Church, 1275 Stuart Road N.E., Cleveland, TN 37312; The Museum Center at Five Points, 200 Inman St. East, Cleveland, TN 37311; and the Foundation for the Cleveland Public Library, 795 Church St. N.E., Cleveland, TN 37311.
Grissom Funeral Home has charge of the arrangements.
To send an online condolence to the family, please visit www.grissomfh.net.