When not working at the New England School of Communications at Husson University, John Easton can often be found at home in Dedham, where he chairs the Board of Selectmen.
While growing up in New Jersey, “I spent all my summers at Tenants Harbor, where my father wanted to move up to,” Easton recalled. That move occurred when Easton was about 14. He attended Georges Valley High School in Thomaston before graduating from North Yarmouth Academy.
In 1984, he graduated from Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. His passion took Easton into another career field, however.
“I’ve been in radio and television for pretty much my whole life,” Easton explained. “I’m very passionate about radio, television, broadcasting.”
Since graduating from the Husson-based New England School of Broadcasting (the forerunner of NESCOM) in 1987, Easton has worked in broadcasting, including some years spent in the control room at WABI-TV. Hired as an adjunct Husson instructor in 2001, he went full-time at NESCOM in 2005 and earned his MBA from Husson in 2012.
Now the video production curriculum coordinator at NESCOM, Easton teaches video production classes and co-teaches a class in live production. Every workday he commutes about 15 miles from Dedham to Husson, and “it’s definitely worth it,” he said.
In 1991, Easton “was looking for a house” in Dedham, “a very pretty community in the hills” that “was far enough out from Bangor and attractive.” He settled down, got to know people, and attended the Dedham Congregational Church. His two stepchildren from his first marriage attended the Dedham School for a while.
One Sunday after a 2014 church service, then Selectman Gary Robbins asked Easton to consider running for selectman. After discussing the issue with his wife, Laurie, Easton circulated a petition, and “I got elected, surprisingly” in June 2014.
“It was a very good decision for me,” Easton said. At his first selectmen’s meeting, Easton “sat next to [board chairman] Alfred Jellison,” a decades-long selectman.
“He started teaching me things right off the bat,” Easton said. “He was an outstanding individual. He cared about that town so much; he loved that town.
“It was quite an honor to sit next to him,” Easton stated.
Re-elected to a second term in June 2017, Easton was named board chairman that November after the unexpected death of Jellison and the retirement of long-term selectman Everett Lawrence. Dedham voters then elected Paul Miller and Peter Merritt to the Board of Selectmen.
Asked about the challenges facing Dedham, Easton responded, “Roads and education. That goes directly to funding.
“‘You’re always chasing the roads’ is what Al Jellison told me,” he said. While the state maintains Routes 1 and 46, the town roads “being on the hills, they’re difficult to maintain.
“Our school, from I’ve been able to observe, is run very efficiently,” he noted. When education expenditures came in under budget last year, the Dedham School Committee returned the excess funds to the town. Voters decided in a special August 2018 election to “pay off some loans” with those monies, Easton said.
When he and Laurie are home together, “sometimes we just want to be homebodies and putter around the garden and the house.” They often visit family members living in the immediate area.
According to Easton, Dedham “is a really good location … equidistant from a number of areas that I am interested in,” including the Maine coast. “Mostly we enjoy being in the community.
“You feel feel like people really look out each other,” he said. “Money can’t buy that.”