Family, Colleagues Pay Tribute to 'Remarkable' Scientist Found Dead in Greece

American scientist Suzanne Eaton was found dead in a Crete WWII bunker on July 8

Missing US Citizen Suzanne Eaton
Suzanne Eaton. Photo: Courtesy

Friends, family and colleagues of American scientist Suzanne Eaton have come together to pay tribute online to the “remarkable woman” whose body was tragically discovered on July 8 on the Greek island of Crete.

Eaton, 59, a molecular biologist at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics in Germany, disappeared while out for a run in the hills near her hotel on the afternoon of July 2, her family said in a Facebook group created to aid in the search. The world-renowned scientist was attending a conference at the Orthodox Academy of Crete at the time.

Details surrounding the discovery of her body in a WW2 bunker and the events that led to her untimely death are still under police investigation.

“My mother was a remarkable woman. She managed to live a life with few regrets, balancing out her personal life with her career,” her son, Max, wrote on the tribute site, adding that despite being a dedicated scientist, Eaton was never “outdone” by any of the full-time mothers in her neighborhood.

“Supportive and encouraging, she nurtured and supported anything that the distractible mind of my childhood would come up with, and this curiosity has stuck with me to this day,” he added.

Missing US Citizen Suzanne Eaton
Suzanne Eaton. Courtesy

Eaton’s mother, Glynda, also wrote movingly of her daughter and the keen intelligence she showed “right after she was born—stuffed into a red Christmas stocking, Dec 23.”

“It has been a joy to share her love of books and music, to observe the combination of a certain flamboyancy with a calm, thoughtful, steady personality,” she added.

Throughout, the tributes paint a picture of a highly educated and deeply caring woman, who was equally at home in the laboratory and the home. A lover of cooking, fashion, music, and perfume, Eaton also taught and practiced Tae Kwon Do as a second-degree black belt and “finished crossword puzzles way too quickly,” says her sister—who is unnamed in the tribute.

“She fit Jane Austin’s strictest description of an ‘accomplished woman’ while maintaining a natural humility and ‘insatiable curiosity’,” she adds.

Colleagues at the Max Plank Institute—where Eaton worked in the fields of molecular and developmental biology—praised her professionalism, dedication, collegiality and, deep, original thinking, describing Eaton as “an inspiring role model for women in science as well as for young scientists.”

To her family, however, she will be remembered as “the kindest, wisest person I will probably ever know,” her brother, Rob, writes on the tribute page. “I have lost a sister. The world has lost more than it will ever know.”

Yet it’s Eaton’s sister who captures the complete essence of the tragedy that’s unfolded in Crete. “My memory will be one of pure joy and gratitude, of love and admiration for an arm in arm sister, a closest confidant, a strong, kind, brilliant, selfless human being who made indelible contributions to science and added immeasurable beauty to our lives,” she writes.

“We are immensely proud of her. Sue is too great a person for her legacy to be defined in any way by how we lost her.”

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