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Eleanor Whitney

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Eleanor Whitney Obituary
Eleanor Genevieve Whitney

Age 97, died on March 13, 2015, after a brief stay at Hope Hospice in Ft. Myers, FL. Her final weeks of life were blessed by the kindness of hospice staff and the unceasing bedside attention of her family and loved ones, from near and far.

Born in Lake City, MI on October 26, 1917, Eleanor was the second child of eight for Mary Ethel (Barton) and Clinton Burlin Ruble. Opting for the simple life, in 1921 they purchased and moved to a rural tract near Battle Creek where Clinton single-handedly built the Ruble homestead.  Chores were the daily pastime and as the eldest daughter, Eleanor shouldered the household and child-rearing responsibilities when her mother, Mary became disabled.

Revered for her principles, Mary served as a guidepost of faith and salvation for her children.  Eleanor also admired her mother's gift for poetry writing which led to a lifelong fascination.  Eleanor collected hundreds of special poems and verses of various sorts, doling them out as enclosures in correspondence.

The Great Depression occupied the bulk of Eleanor's formative years; two world wars served as bookends to her youth. Three of her four brothers served in WWII and her secretarial career was launched at the Veterans Affairs Hospital (V.A.). The milestones of her generation gave substance to the outline of a generous and compassionate soul. A devout pacifist, Eleanor was resolute in focusing on the positive and finding the good in everyone. Her connection with the military and world conflict continued until the close of the Vietnam War when she retired as a secretary at the Dept. of Defense, reporting directly to a General at Battle Creek's Federal Center.

In 1952, while working at the V.A., Eleanor met and married her husband, Ross Whitney (1917-1992).  Eleanor and Ross had no children of their own but she more than made up for this with deep relationships of love and care shown to an extended and ever widening family circle of nieces and nephews. As each generation came along, they all became her beloved children.  Eleanor and Ross' summer cottage on Gun Lake, MI was the favorite gathering grounds for the entire family until they retired and moved to Ft. Myers, FL.

Eleanor was an inspiration for independent thinking, healthy living and demonstrating a "can-do" philosophy. Conscientious about good diet and regular exercise, it was little surprise when she started running in her seventies, going on to win her first race. After Ross died, Eleanor lived with her younger sister, Ethel Emerson, who lovingly cared for Eleanor in her later years. By her ninetieth birthday, which was a big celebration, Eleanor had become less active, yet her interest in family never waned. She truly thrived on visits from and news about family, and the sentiment was mutual. Eleanor will be sorely missed and long remembered.

Eleanor was preceded in death by her parents, husband, Ross, four brothers, Manley (1916-2003), Arnold (1919-1994), Ernest (1921-2006) and Maurice (1924-1994), sister-in-law, Betty Ruble (1927-2014), brother-in-law, Glenn Birkhofer (1931-2014) and nephews, Philip Ruble (1954-2012) and Delbert Ruble (1956-2008).  Surviving are her sisters, Mary Lois (Douglas) Williamson of Ft. Myers Beach, FL; Ethel Emerson of Ft. Myers, FL; Kathryn Birkhofer of Lansing, MI; sisters-in-law, Evelyn Ruble and Peggy Jean Ruble, both of Battle Creek, MI. Also surviving are sixty-seven nieces, nephews, grand and great-grand-nieces and nephews, all of whom Eleanor dearly loved.

A private memorial service will be officiated by Carl Hamilton and Leslie Pulley. Interment will be held privately at the Coral Ridge Cemetery, Cape Coral, FL.  Donations in Eleanor's memory may be sent to Hope Hospice, 9470 Healthpark Circle, Fort Myers, FL 33908 (HopeHCS.org). Friends may sign the guest book at www.horizonfunerals.com.

Published in Battle Creek Enquirer on Apr. 5, 2015
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