Eleanor Felker led a long and robust life. She passed away on November 8th, 2019 in her 98th years from complications following a stroke. She was born May 12, 1922 in an immigrant section of the South Bronx, which later was called Fort Apache. She grew up during the Great Depression, became married during World War II, and then raised two sons during the social unrest of the 1960s and 1970s. She survived a broken hip in her late 80s and learned how to walk again (she later told people that “she had fallen off a mountain”). Eleanor grew up in the South Bronx and attended Yale Divinity School on full scholarship. She met her husband in New Haven and then relocated to Minneapolis where she raised two sons, Eric and Kurt; she has a granddaughter, Amelia.
Eleanor obtained a Master’s degree in social work, taught at the graduate school at the University of Minnesota, and then worked for many years in the Minneapolis School system. The family lived in the Macalester-Groveland area near Macalester College. Eleanor loved to attend the Guthrie Theater and played a very competitive bridge game with local neighbors. She loved music and was an active cross-country skier, which she continued well into her 80s. She attended services and sang in the choir at this church.
After her husband passed away in 1986, Eleanor moved to western Minneapolis where she enjoyed long walks around the lakes, and cross-country skiing on Lake -of-the-Isles. She traveled the world visiting many European countries as well as China and Thailand, cross-country skied at high altitudes in Colorado, attended concerts at the Aspen Music festival, and traveled the country with friends and her son. Eleanor had frequent visits to her son in New York City where she attended plays at the Roundabout Theater and the Manhattan Theater Club. She loved modern dance, especially the Alvin Ailey dance troop. For many years she had been worried that she would suffer the same Alzheimer’s disease as her mother and sister, Virginia, and noticed her own memory loss starting about 20 years ago.
Eleanor’s Alzheimer’s disease started about ten years ago, and her son Eric became her primary caregiver. The disease attacked her slowly, mostly her short-term memory. Her travels ended and life became very structured. She attended day care on a regular basis. Even at this old age, she was taking no medications for chronic disease. Her diet switched to ham, cheese, hot chocolate, cranberry juice, and root beer. She loved root beer floats at Dairy Queen and occasional waffles at Perkins. Eleanor loved long car rides and would wave at her old Saint Paul home on Sargent Avenue as she was driven by it. Her deterioration became more pronounced over the last year and she entered hospice care. About two months ago she suffered a stroke and died of its complications on November 8, 2019. After being comatose for four days, she opened her eyes at 8 AM and then breathed her last breath at 8:30 AM with her son Eric present.
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