Eleanor Claire Wallin Penn
Eleanor Claire (Wallin) Penn, “Ellie”, of Livingston, Montana, joined the Lord, Tuesday, August 18, 2020, at Livingston Health and Rehabilitation Center. She was 94.
A celebration of life memorial service will be held on Saturday, September 26, at 2:00 PM at Franzen-Davis Funeral Home.
Eleanor was born on January 13, 1926 in Stamford, Connecticut to Ernest and Frieda Kramer Wallin. She grew up in Darien, Connecticut and was a 1943 graduate of Darien High School. She attended the University of Connecticut from 1945-1949, where she double majored in chemistry and music.
During college she worked as a laboratory assistant at American Cyanamid Research Laboratories in Stamford, Connecticut and as a teaching assistant for the Department of Music where she met her future husband.
She married Robert Penn in 1949, and raised four children. Ellie also did executive secretarial and clerical work throughout 1949-1970. From 1971-1989 she was an administrative secretary at the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana, Department of Urban and Regional Planning.
Faculty and students relied on her competency and respected her advice. She enrolled in computer programming classes and became proficient with articles and papers for publication that included complicated mathematical reports. Her love of education and learning permeated her lifetime in order to help others with theirs.
Ellie retired in 1989 and moved to Manhattan, Montana to be with family. She lived in Livingston from 1993 until her death.
Throughout her life there were six basic loves and beliefs at the core of her value system: God, family, friends, music, learning and country. The overarching umbrella being faith.
Eleanor’s strong faith and love of God started in childhood. She attended churches, singing in the choir, serving on ministry teams and in leadership roles, while studying and reading to grow in her faith. She was working on a book of prayers, poems and essays for family during her later years.
Family meant everything to Eleanor. Her mother was one of nine children, putting her in the core of a large family within 40 miles of her home. When she had four children of her own, she felt it was a miracle changing her entire life. Her grandchildren and great grandchildren changed her entire world.
Throughout her life, her extension of family was her deep relationships with others. Whether as a long-term friend, or new acquaintance, she made you feel as if you were the most important person in her world.
Music was her true passion. Eleanor started piano lessons at the age of three. When she was four, she played “To a Wild Rose” on the radio. Other radio debuts included playing the guitar with her sister Jean, and her church choir. She loved to sing with solos assigned to her.
She played the clarinet in the band and orchestra in high school. They played concerts in New York City at the Metropolitan Opera House. During college she was employed and played oboe for the Bridgeport Symphony Orchestra. She continued listening to, learning of, and being a part of music her whole life.
She learned how to cook, sew, crochet, knit, design and make cards for enterprise. Eleanor just studied the subject and then applied it to happen. This began early at age 12 where she designed and tailored clothes, knitting sweaters to go with the outfits.
Eleanor was very patriotic and loved her country. Patriotic holidays were always celebrated with the American Flag being displayed and joining in the festivities. She voted starting at age 18 and never missed an election.
Our beloved Eleanor with her bright spirit, curiosity of life and dedication to help others will be cherished in our hearts forever.
She is survived by her children: Holly (Jeff) Robbins of Lampasas, Texas; Elizabeth (Mark) Helmke of St. Charles, Illinois; Jonathan Penn of Champaign, Illinois; Sarah Penn of Livingston, Montana.
9 grandchildren: Katheryn Otto Swann, Andrew (Sophie) Otto, Jane Otto Zeller, Laura (Chad) Jones, Tyler (Nicole) Otto, Alexander (Kia) Helmke, Rebecca (Greg) Hewitt, Caroline (Reid) Hutchison and Gordon Helmke.
17 great-grandchildren: Virginia Schilling, Chris (Natalie) Schilling and Jaqueiyn Schilling; Anna, Naomi and Azariah Otto; Timothy and Thomas Cavalieri, William and John Stenson; Joshua, Nathan, Crosby and Claire Jones; Ian, Makayla, and Wyatt Otto; along with many nieces, nephews and extended family.
She was preceded in death by her sister Jean O. Wallin Saunders and her parents.
A memorial tree, through the City of Livingston Parks Department, will be planted in Eleanor’s name with a commemorative plaque. Make checks payable and send to: Elizabeth Helmke, 811 King Henry Lane, St. Charles, IL 60174 (Please DO NOT send directly to the Parks Department.)
Franzen-Davis Funeral Home and Crematory has been entrusted with arrangements.
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