Bunny Eaton

DaFondeau "Bunny" Eaton, pictured here with her grandsons, lived in Madison for about 20 years. She died last week while attempting to evacuate Hurricane Irma. 

Photo courtesy of Lee Dyse Jackson

A former Madison resident died of a heart attack while evacuating from Georgia, and her family is seeking help to cover the funeral expenses.

DaFondeau "Bunny" Eaton lived in southwest Madison for about 20 years, her son Lee Dyse Jackson said Tuesday. She helped out at the Urban League and would dress up in costumes to volunteer at the annual Juneteenth celebration, he said.

The “life of the party” with a sense of adventure that led her to skydive and travel to Jamaica, she still has many friends and relatives in the area, he said. Jackie Hunt, a substance abuse counselor and community organizer for Justified Anger, was one of those friends.

When Hunt moved to Madison in the early 1990’s, Eaton was her neighbor.

“We’ve been through a lot together,” Hunt said. “We were really close, we remained close for all these years, even after I went to prison and did time and came out.”

Eaton later moved to Georgia to be closer to Jackson and his wife and children. The whole family, including Eaton's two grandsons, were evacuating Hurricane Irma, and on the way to a relative's memorial service, when Eaton suffered a heart attack. Jackson couldn’t find an off ramp in the Tennessee mountains and she passed away in the backseat with her grandsons beside her.

“By the time I finally found an off ramp, it was too late to administer CPR. She was gone,” Jackson wrote on a fundraising page for funeral expenses. “I tried desperately to revive her, but failed in my efforts. The emergency rescue team showed up quickly and worked tirelessly to bring her back as well, to no avail.”

Insurance information that would potentially cover the funeral back in Georgia, but "because of the evacuation, I am unable to return to Southeast Georgia to retrieve this information any time soon," Jackson said. Eaton’s religious beliefs dictate immediate burial. Jackson is raising funds to move Eaton’s body from the morgue in Tennessee and pay for a burial, along with other expenses associated with her death.

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Another son, Walter Cowan, still lives in Madison and is known as “DJ Double ‘D.’” He said they would like to have the memorial service in Madison. 

"We figured this would be a good help as well, for the people who admired and loved her to kind of be inspired, especially during this time of hurricanes and floods and so much death," he said. 

“She’s one of Madison’s own who is in need right now,” Hunt said.