By Loretta Fulton
“Determined, dedicated, delightful.”
Those three words pretty well define Jan Eastland. Two words that she never let define her were “cerebral” and “palsy.” Even though Eastland has lived with the neurological disorder her entire life, she never let it define her. That was proven again Jan. 12 when a reception was held for her at Hardin-Simmons University marking the publication of her memoir, “Assorted Nuts.”
The book was made possible by Lanny Hall, chancellor of Hardin-Simmons who was president of the university when he first heard that Eastland wanted to get her memoir published. Hall took it upon himself to make sure that happened.
“We’re going to get that published,” Hall promised.
Eastland had the typed pages stored on a computer disk, which Hall, his assistant Donna Hall (not related) and others got into the proper format to be published through Amazon’s CreateSpace.
Eastland has proven all her 74 years that she wouldn’t let cerebral palsy, the result of an injury at birth, define her or limit her. It took her 17 years to earn a bachelor’s degree in sociology from HSU, but she did it. One of her professors was Julian Bridges, who defined Eastland as “determined, dedicated, delightful.”
He recalled that when Eastland got her degree in 1978, something special happened at the commencement ceremony.
“All of the graduating class stood up and applauded,” he said during the Jan. 12 reception.
Hall noted in his remarks that Eastland first enrolled at HSU in the 1960s and has met all of the university’s presidents since then.
“She’s seen a lot of nuts,” he said, a reference to the book title, which Eastland chose.
In addition to seeing people buying her book, enjoying a beautiful cake, and being greeted by a crowd of well-wishers, Eastland received a couple of special notices. State Rep. Stan Lambert, who was unable to attend, got a state resolution adopted honoring Eastland.
Abilene Mayor Anthony Williams, who also was unable to attend, signed a proclamation naming Jan. 12 as “Jan Eastland Day” in Abilene. The proclamation was printed on a plaque, which was presented to Eastland.
Current HSU President Eric Bruntmyer said Eastland sometimes visits his office and always is a blessing.
“You can see her spirit,” Bruntmyer said, “as she goes throughout the campus.”