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Former Convenor of CAISS

It was 1973 and the Calcutta Anglo-Indian Association had been in the doldrums for many a year. George Wilson de-Roze was the Anglo-Indian MLA and he got four young (all in our 30’s) AIs together with a plan to revitalize the organization. The four were – Percy Jones, Alban Scolt, Philomena Eaton and Blair Williams.


They campaigned door to door with great fervor and were easily elected - Alban became the President, Percy was the secretary, Blair was senior VP and Philo was junior VP. In a heady year we introduced many new projects – employment; school admissions; medical help – and ran very successful dances to raise funds. In 1976, the group had a falling-out with Frank Anthony. Not to be denied in their focus to help the Anglo-Indian of Calcutta, the group went on to form the Calcutta Anglo-Indian Service Society (CAISS). Philo served CAISS for 35 years, ending by organizing the highly successful International Reunion at Kolkata in 2013 – the labor of a lifetime.

So what sort of person was this Philomena Eaton?  Robyn Andrews of New Zealand in ‘Women of Anglo-India’ interviewed Philo on her competing for and winning the ‘All India Secretary of the Year’ title when she was 50. Throughout the interview Philo’s modesty and humility come through – continuously surprised that she should be there, let alone winning. She ends with what I consider her life’s theme: “So you see how God works these things.”


Melville Coombes an Anglo-Indian researcher from the UK writes: “I met her several times during my many visits to India. Hard working, generous, modest, firm but fair. Unlike the Pharisees, she never stood before the altar proclaiming about the great things she had done and boasting about what she had achieved. An example to us all. She will be a very hard act to follow.”


Cheryl Chater from Australia writes, “To me and I am sure to many of our community Philo was the Anglo-Indian version of Mother Teresa.  No one ever went to her for help and left empty handed.”


Philo was very organized and paid close attention to detail. She always replied to emails and sent statements in time (such a rare experience for India). There were many who marveled at her ability to always know where everything was and what was to be done, when. She always seemed to have time to chat and enquire about personal details and had a deep concern for others – particularly those in need.


In the 2000’s some worried that unless CAISS develop some more local funding resources, when the generation abroad pass on, CAISS might be unable to fund its projects. She did the arithmetic and the when the gap was too large to be bridged, smiled and said, “God will provide the rest.”  

Yet she was no pushover. She told many the stories of having to take strong stands against many community leaders who wanted to use the reunion to exercise their authority or to get personal publicity. She was determined that the 2013 reunion would be run by an organizing committee and that each subcommittee would exercise complete autonomy (without political interference). Her rule was, “Leave your titles at the door”. She was equally determined to have transparency in all the accounting of the event, a major departure from the norm and CAISS published a detailed financial review of the reunion. Her firmness had no rancor or egoism: this was the way it was decided upon and this was what it would be.


Her toughness is confirmed by Malay Mundle, writing in the Kolkata Herald under ‘Farewell to eminent Anglo-Indian’: “Philomena Eaton, a leading member of the Anglo-Indian community in Kolkata breathed her last, Dec. 15. A legionary for fifty years, she was a firebrand, no-nonsense ‘crusader’ for Our Lady. For her, the Legion of Mary was an integral part of her own existence. She was always critical about things which went amiss and always strived for the best performance of the Legion. Her views and comments were fierce but witty, forthright but convincing.”


She was deeply compassionate and very spiritual. Her spirituality was low key, but clearly evident in her work for the less fortunate. Her solution to all major problems was ‘God will provide’ and He did when Philo asked. While she is irreplaceable, she did build a team around her and the work of CAISS will continue. 

As Blair Williams says "We are sure she has opted to be the special guardian angel of CAISS and all the less fortunate Anglo-Indians of Kolkata. As for me, when I am standing before the pearly gate, stammering about what I have done and what I have not done, my open sesame will be ‘I was a friend of Philomena Eaton.’ I am sure those gates will swing wide open".

Philomena will be always remembered as the Nelson Mandela of the Anglo -Indian Community in Kolkata as she is fondly remembered by a very dear friend and co worker Louis De Cruze.


"Well done Good and Faithful Servant" 




Leslie Pereira

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