Hubert A. Eaton, born in Fayetteville, NC, grew up in Winston-Salem, NC, the son of Estelle Atley (Jones) and Dr. Chester Arthur Easton. He graduated from Johnson C. Smith University, where he was a member of the school's tennis team, and earned a MS in Zoology and his medical degree at the University of Michigan. After a year's residency at Kate Bitting Memorial Hospital, Winston-Salem, he moved to Wilmington, NC in 1943 with his wife, Celeste Burnett Eaton to join in medical practice with his father-in-law, Doctor Foster F. Burnett.
Eaton practiced general medicine and general surgery and was a member of the surgical staff of [segregated] Community Hospital. In 1950 he and other community leaders sued the New Hanover Board of Education to force the upgrading of the segregated schools. Eaton returned to the courts when it became apparent the school system was not integrating schools in accordance with the United States Supreme Court's decision in Brown v. Board of Education. Because of the inadequacies of Community Hospital, in 1957 Eaton and his fellow physicians sued to force James Walker Memorial Hospital to admit black doctors to its staff. When New Hanover County moved to build a new hospital, Eaton and other African-American physicians used the courts to insure that the new facility would be open to patients and doctors of all races.
Eaton had a lifelong interest in tennis; he sponsored Althea Gibson, the first black athlete to win championships at Wimbledon and Forest Hills, and served as president of the American Tennis Association. Eaton was called upon to serve as an advisor to several area educational institutions: Cape Fear Technical Institute [now Cape Fear Community College], the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, the North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching. As physician he served as a Title VI Consultant for the Department of Health Education and Welfare, as a trustee for Pitt County Hospital and participated in the national conference, Medicine in the Ghettos. He was a scholar and writer who authored an account of the history of Community Hospital, a biography of Dr. James F. Shober, first black doctor in North Carolina to have a medical school degree, and his own memoirs, 'Every Man Should Try.'
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