2006-05-15 06:44:19 UTC
Inventor of bubble bath dies at age 82
BY JOHN A. TORRES
Innovative inventor. Charlie Eaton is credited with changing the
women's hosiery industry, inventing bubble bath for kids and being the
first to market insulated Styrofoam cups
Linda Spain says her father left her with a lot more than a lifetime of
He left her with an idea.
Inventor, innovator, entrepreneur, salesman, husband, father and friend
Charlie Eaton died last weekend at the age of 82 -- almost 30 years
after doctors underestimated the man and said he would never walk
Instead, Eaton who is credited with changing the women's hosiery
industry, inventing bubble bath for kids and being the first to market
insulated Styrofoam cups, lived out his years boating, traveling in an
RV, owning hotels and publishing a Cocoa Beach newspaper while fighting
a terrible muscular disease.
"My father was an innovator," Spain said from her Cocoa Beach home. "A
lot of people have ideas but they don't do anything about them He left
me with a fabulous idea and if I have enough of his genes then maybe I
can get it done."
Friends and family members say Eaton was a character who was liked by
all and could charm the scales off a fish.
"He was one of those guys who never met a stranger," son-in-law David
Spain said. "Wherever we were he would just walk up and meet new people
all the time."
Hoping to drum up business for his father's hosiery mill, Eaton
designed custom pantyhose for the country's first lady Mamie Eisenhower
that were embroidered with "I Like Ike" on them.
The family proudly kept the letter from the first lady thanking Eaton
for his thoughtfulness.
Shortly after that he began packaging hosiery for convenience stores
and in coffee can-style packages that became the prototype for the
plastic eggs used by Leggs today. He also contracted with a chemical
company to invent inexpensive bubble bath for kids because his wife
complained that his children were wasting her expensive suds.
Eaton may have left an idea behind for his daughter, but he also
harvested several from his children, including the names "Bub" for the
bubble bath and "Kooly Kupps" for one of the first brands of insulated
cups sold in the country.
"Everything he touched turned to gold," said his daughter Linda, who
spoke of a privileged childhood of fancy cars, car phones and
electronic drapes. "I didn't realize it at the time, but I had things
that my friends didn't."
Eaton also bought and sold racehorses. He sold Trigger Jr. to Roy
By the time Eaton moved to Brevard County in 1970, his muscles had
started getting weaker. He told best friend Ray Mulberry that he only
had a year or two left. But the friends spent the next two decades-plus
taking trips, boating across the state and flying his Cessna 182.
"Charlie was the most generous man you could ever meet," Mulberry said.
"Oh God, oh Lordy, I'm gonna miss him like my arm. It's bad."
While in Brevard, Eaton purchased hotels, commercial buildings and
formed Formula 5 Realtors. He also purchased a Cocoa Beach newspaper
known as the Surfside Sun, which would later become the Cocoa Beach
Eaton is survived by his wife of 59 years, Esther, children Linda and
Charlie and several grandchildren, great grandchildren and in-laws.
Eaton, his family members said, would end phone conversations by
saying, "This is Charlie, over and out," something they are bound to
recall Tuesday when he is honored by a ceremony at Cocoa Beach