Eleanor Maude Winchester, a long-time resident of Redding, CA, died May 5 at the home of her youngest daughter in Stanwood, WA. She was preceded in death by her husband of 34 years, Ray Al Winchester. Prior to their move to Redding in 2002, the couple resided in Fall River Mills, CA and Anchorage, Alaska.
Born in 1928 in Pekin, IL, Eleanor was the youngest of Bill and Lucile Rowan’s four children. Eleanor grew up in Elmhurst, IL and graduated from York High School there in 1945. She raised four children: Kathy Lapeyre, Beth Beecroft, Charlie Beecroft and Peggy Costley. Eleanor was stepmother to three of Ray’s four sons: Jerry, Tom and Mike Winchester. Mike and his daughter Gabrielle preceded her in death.
During her 89 years, Eleanor liked playing piano and singing, square dancing, fishing, sewing and especially reading.
Her working life was mainly split between Eastern Airlines in Charlotte, N.C.; Selective Service in Fairbanks and Anchorage; and the Alaska Attorney General’s Office in Anchorage.
Until complications from a broken hip in 2015 left her unable to walk, she enjoyed swimming in her pool at home in Redding. On holidays or summer vacations, when family could visit, it wasn’t unusual for the dining room table to be crowded with kids and grandkids playing a dice or card game. Eleanor loved the competition of a good Scrabble match and kept the latest dictionary on hand for that purpose.
She was a lively spirit and loved to laugh and may have, on occasion, delighted in playing a practical joke or waking grandchildren to a blaring “Stars and Stripes Forever.” Recently, one of Eleanor’s favorite outings was Sunday Bingo at a casino in Redding. Over the years, she enjoyed playing pinochle, participating in the Newcomer’s Club events and sharing stories with their writer’s group in Redding.
Eleanor and Ray were active in the Wayside Garden Club in Fall River Mills where they helped at the Inter-Mountain Fair each year in McArthur, CA. Another of Eleanor’s pet projects, as a member of the hospital auxiliary group in Fall River Mills, was raising money to buy car seats for parents of newborns at Mayers Memorial Hospital. In addition to her children, Eleanor is survived by 12 grandchildren, 14 great-grandchildren and three great-great-grandchildren.
A Celebration of Life will be held at 4 p.m. Saturday, May 20, at the Seven Lakes Baptist Church in Stanwood. The graveside service will be held in July when her ashes are interred at Fall River Mills Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to your preferred charity. A guestbook has been established by Weller Funeral Home in Arlington, WA, www.dignitymemorial.com/weller-funeral-home