A severe storm traveled through Middle Tennessee on Monday and dropped a tornado, which caused severe damage and killed at least 24 people over four counties. Two of those killed were Donna Eaton, 81, and her husband James, who would have turned 85 on Wednesday. The couple died after their home in Mt. Juliet was leveled by a tornado and were found lying "side by side" on a mattress, the Tennessean reports.
The Eatons had been married for 58 years and were longtime residents of Mt. Juliet, a suburb about 30 minutes east of Nashville. The couple's grandson, Jake Hardy-Moore called his grandparents the "best earthly example of what a marriage should look like."
"They showed Christ's love and his sacrifice. They both loved our families through challenging times of life," Hardy-Moore told the Tennessean. "They were the ones we looked to when times were difficult, and they kept us pointed toward God and to be dependent on God."
Donna and James were longtime members of First Baptist Church Mt. Juliet and their funeral will be held at the church on Sunday.
"To know them was to love them. They carried with them a happy spirit, and their love for their church family was a model to all of us," Pastor Phillip Dunn told the Tennessean. "To know that they were taken from us so quickly in a storm shocks all of us. We can also rest assured that Jim and Donna loved Christ and woke up with their faith becoming sight."
Mt. Juliet was one of the areas heavily affected by Monday night's storm. "The home of that family, the Eatons, was probably (in) the worst part of the damage," Mt. Juliet Police Department Capt. Tyler Chandler told TODAY. Brandy Barker, who was working security at a CEVA warehouse, was also killed in Mt. Juliet.
Others killed in the tornadoes include at least five young children. Dozens of people are injured and dozens more are still missing. Collegeside Church of Christ in Cookeville shared that 4-year-old Hattie Collins died in the storm and her parents and sibling were hospitalized in stable condition. The Collins family also lost their home. WTVC reported that Josh and Erin Kimberlin and their 2-year-old son Sawyer were also killed in Cookeville.
In East Nashville, Albree Sexton, 33, and her boyfriend Michael Dolfini, 36, were killed by storm debris as they were leaving Attaboy lounge, where Dolfini worked, according to a media release from the city of Nashville.
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