In Memoriam: Jim Eason

eason[1].jpgJim Eason, managing director of North Castle Partners, passed away last Friday. The firm has declined comment, citing the family’s wishes. He was just 45 years old.

Eason had helped North Castle founder Charles Baird form the firm’s first fund, and then signed on at the beginning of Fund II in 1998. The firm focuses on consumer product and services companies focused on “healthy living and aging” — and Eason had been particularly focused on such portfolio companies as Red Door Spas, Naked Juice, Octane Fitness and EAS. Current board seats had included Enzymatic Therapy, Octane Fitness and Performance Inc.

News of Eason’s death has surprised many private equity market pros — particularly given that the firm this morning announced its acquisition of Atkins Nutritionals. “A real shame,” said one investor when informed of the news. “He was a great guy… I was looking forward to reading more about the Atkins deal, but obviously that’s unimportant right now.”

A memorial service for friends and family will be held tomorrow morning in New Canaan, Connecticut. He is survived by his wife Wendy, children Andrew and Emily, father Robert, sisters Jean Reichard, Carol Willersdorf and Beverly Eason, and his brothers William and Robert.

In lieu of flowers, the family welcomes donations to Augie’s Quest — an organization devoted to finding a cure for Lou Gehrig’s disease. It was founded by Jim Eason’s friend, and was an organization close to his heart.

Donations can be send C/O: The Muscular Dystrophy Association, Augie’s Quest, 1805 E. Garry Ave., Suite 100, Santa Ana, CA 92705, www.augiesquest.com.