Annemarie Eaton, 102: Georgia Tech's and Georgia State's oldest living alumna

Some people use age as a crutch. They're too old to do this, that or the other.

Age hardly deterred Annemarie Eaton of Atlanta. At 69, she earned a master's degree in gerontology from Georgia State University. That degree later gave her the distinction of being the city college's oldest living alumna.

Through the years, she wrote several books on aging. They dealt with various subjects but carried a recurring theme: Live a full life. Stay active.

"She felt that everyone's job as a human being was to live and she lived that philosophy every day," said a granddaughter, Catherine Neiner of Atlanta. "She felt it was really important that, as people age, they stay intellectually, physically and socially engaged so that they can age gracefully."

On Saturday, Annemarie Eaton died at Hospice Atlanta from natural causes. She was 102. A memorial service will be held at a later date at Oak Grove United Methodist Church. R.T. Patterson Funeral Home of Lilburn is in charge of arrangements.

Mrs. Eaton already held a bachelor's degree when she, her husband and three tykes emigrated from Germany. The couple didn't want to raise a family in Nazism and moved to New York before settling in Atlanta in 1938.

Then 31, Mrs. Eaton enrolled in Georgia Tech's evening school to study industrial engineering. Her husband, the late Paul T. Eaton eventually became a Georgia Tech professor.

Mrs. Eaton subsequently worked as a systems analyst for Sears and as a credit manager at the J.P. Allen.

At Georgia State, her master's degree project laid the groundwork for the founding of Life Enrichment Services, Inc., a nonprofit in DeKalb County which she co-founded. The social gerontologist represented DeKalb and Rockdale counties at a White House Conference on Aging, a once-a-decade affair.

In the late 1980s, the Georgia State Institute on Aging established a scholarship in Mrs. Eaton's name. On her 99th birthday, the Institute threw her a party and presented her with a book, "Living to 100."

Her response: "I will try," according to an Institute article.

"She is the example of aging," her granddaughter said. "She was in complete control of everything until the bitter end. You could walk in and start talking about anything and she could carry on an interesting conversation with you."

On her 100th birthday, Georgia State and Tech hailed her as their living oldest alumna. She's also a Tech "Woman of Distinction" and part of its oral history archives, said Marilyn J. Somers,  director of  Tech's Living History Program.

"She was a beloved character who was as bossy as the day was long," she said, chuckling. "It was great fun. She was always surviving. She beat cancer, a stroke and a heart attack but she was always in the moment. I have never had any centenarian but her that was savvy to the Internet and who used e-mail."

Additional survivors include a daughter, Clairelis Baxter of Athens; two sons, Charles Eaton of Greer, S.C. and Goetz Eaton of Anderson, S.C.; 11 grandchildren; and 22 great-grandchildren.