Photo Memorial: Royal Oak Remembers Shrine's Monsignor William Easton

Msgr. William Easton will be in state at the National Shrine of the Little Flower from 2-10 p.m. Thursday. A Funeral Mass will be held Friday.

Easton, also known as "The Dogfather" is shown here  giving a high five to the Shrine Grade School cheerleaders. Photo: Amber Dugas Kimmal
Easton, also known as "The Dogfather" is shown here giving a high five to the Shrine Grade School cheerleaders. Photo: Amber Dugas Kimmal
Parishioners of the National Shrine of the Little Flower expressed sorrow and shock this week after learning of the sudden death of their beloved pastor, Msgr. William Easton. 

Easton was rushed to Beaumont Hospital on Dec. 20 after suffering a sudden cardiac ailment and subsequent fall, according to the Archdiocese of Detroit website. He died Dec. 29. Easton was 69 years old.

"Very sad news," wrote Mayor Jim Ellison on Royal Oak Patch's Facebook page. "We offer our condolences to the entire parish and his family."

Rev. John Miller, of Royal Oak's First Congregational Church, remembers Easton as "a great man, good neighbor and kind colleague."

"Our prayers at First Congregational Church join those of our brothers and sisters at Shrine," Miller said.

Funeral arrangements

Easton will lie in state Thursday, Jan. 2 from 1 - 10 p.m. at the National Shrine of the Little Flower, Woodward at 12 Mile. A vigil service will be held at 7 p.m. 

The Catholic priest will also be in state Friday morning at the church from 9 - 11 a.m. A Funeral Mass will be held at 11 a.m. with Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron as the principal celebrant. 

A private family burial will take place at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Southfield. 


Easton was born on June 18, 1944 in Detroit to William and Shirley Easton, he was the oldest of six children.

His obituary on the A.J. Desmond & Sons Funeral Home website reads:

Always knowing he would become a priest, even when torturing his siblings, he entered the seminary from 8th grade. He graduated from Sacred Heart Seminary in Detroit and earned a Master of Divinity Degree from St. John's Provincial Seminary in Plymouth. He was ordained and celebrated his First Mass at Our Lady of Good Counsel Church (Detroit) on June 14, 1970.

Msgr. Easton served as Parochial Vicar and Pastor at St. Mary Parish in Royal Oak. He then served as Pastor at Vincent de Paul Parish in Pontiac, and also was Administrator at St. Joseph Parish in Pontiac during part of that time. In 1988, he was appointed Dean of Spiritual Formation and then was made Vice Rector at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit. He was named a Monsignor in 1990 by Pope John Paul II. He became Pastor at the National Shrine of the Little Flower in Royal Oak on October 15, 1996 where he served until his death. 

In addition to pastoral and seminary duties, he was well known for his work as the overall Site Director for the visit of (Blessed) Pope John Paul II to Detroit in 1987. His responsibilities during the visit included organizing the Mass at the Pontiac Silverdome. He also was a member of the Board of Consultors for the Archdiocese, Chairman of the Presbyteral Council (a board of priests that is advisory to the Archbishop of Detroit) from 2009-2012, and coordinator of archdiocesan celebrations for consecrations of new bishops. His other commitments included sitting on the Board of Trustees of Madonna University in Livonia and the Children's Trust Fund of the State of Michigan, and he served as the Chaplain for the Royal Oak Police Department. Msgr. Easton also eagerly directed many pilgrimages to Europe and the Holy Land.

Msgr. Easton was particularly devoted to the patron saint of the National Shrine, St. Therese of Lisieux. He was instrumental in the Archdiocesan-wide veneration of her relic that was a special occasion for so many.

His family will lovingly remember him as being their "Rock." Whatever the need, they could always depend on him. His love for dogs, especially large ones, was well known. He also enjoyed anything around the water.

Msgr. Easton is survived by his mother Shirley Easton, his siblings, Karl Easton (the late Deanna), Theresa Naski (the late James), and Kathleen Wigmosta (Mark), his special aunt, Hester Abbott, nine nieces and nephews, and seven great-nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his father, the late William Easton, and his brothers, the late Robert and Donald Easton.

Memorial tributes 

Memorial tributes may be made to:

Sacred Heart Major Seminary
2701 Chicago Blvd.
Detroit, MI 48206 

American Cancer Society
20450 Civic Center Drive
Southfield, MI 48076 

Or to any of the parishes he served, including:

Share your memories of Msgr. Easton in the comments. 


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