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Eleanor Knapp

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Eleanor Knapp Obituary
Eleanor Knapp

AGE: 78 • Lewes

Eleanor A. Knapp, 78, a history lover and beloved wife, mother and grandmother, died on April 5 in Lewes, DE, after a long illness. A graduate of Wilmington's P.S. duPont High School and the University of Delaware, Eleanor raised four daughters in her native Wilmington with the love of her life, Laurence (Larry) B. Knapp, Jr., 82, whom she married in 1961. She read voraciously and made a mean lemon meringue pie.

She was especially happy when reading about the British monarchy, and could effortlessly name all six wives of Henry XVIII (as well as their fates, be it divorce decree or blade). In testament to her love of the written word, when illness robbed her of the pleasure of reading, she began compiling a long list of every book she had ever read.

Eleanor was devoted to her family and her friends, and she kept an eye out for the soul in need of a loving word or a bit of extra attention, including one special stray mutt.

She worked for almost 20 years at the Hagley Museum and Library in Wilmington, first as a volunteer and tour guide, and later as the education coordinator and then the museum's director of operations. She organized the annual Irish Day and fireworks, among other things, and took enormous pride in bringing 19th-century history to life in exhibits and programs that highlighted the history of the du Pont family's gunpowder mills along the banks of Brandywine Creek, as well as stories of the millworkers and their families who lived there.

Eleanor was a Phillies baseball fan, endlessly devoted and often hopelessly frustrated. The broadcasts of their games were the family's summer soundtrack, typically accompanied by Eleanor's exasperated muttering, and the radio going conspicuously silent for an inning or two. She had a particular fondness for the late player and announcer Richie Ashburn, whose framed and autographed photograph hangs in her home office to this day.

Her great love, of course, was her family. With Larry, she felt herself the luckiest woman in the world. They met at a wedding in Lewes, his hometown, and at the end of the evening, when he asked if he could call her, she replied, "You'd better." They were engaged within five months, and married within nine.

Together, they fulfilled many dreams. Eleanor boarded a plane for the first time at age 34, bound for England. Over the years, good fortune and a sense of adventure provided experiences such as: cuddling a koala in Australia, taking a boat down the Amazon, riding a ferry through Norway's fjords and skiing in the Alps, crossing over the border between Austria and Switzerland, then back again.

Nearing retirement, Eleanor and Larry moved to Lewes in 1998, but traveled frequently to their daughters' homes in Massachusetts, New York and California.

Eleanor loved her children and eight grandchildren beyond measure, and encouraged in each of them a commitment to knowledge, education and empathy.

In addition to her husband, she is survived by daughters Mary Gwen Knapp, Susan McClements (Bill), Rebecca Adams (Chris), and Nancy Piccione (Anthony), eight grandchildren-William M., Eleanor Anne, Rebecca, William A., Christina, Caroline, Leslie and Christopher-and her loving brother Jack Agnew (Carolyn), and nephews John and Stephen Agnew. She was predeceased by her parents, Mary Poore Agnew McCloskey and Elwood Agnew, and her loving stepfather, Edward McCloskey.

A Memorial Service will be held at 11:00 AM on Monday, April 10, 2017 at the Lewes Yacht Club, 2701 Cedar Street, Lewes, DE 19958, where Eleanor and Larry first met at that wedding reception 57 years ago. Friends may visit beginning at 10:00 AM. Arrangements are being handled by Parsell Funeral Homes and Crematorium, Atkins-Lodge Chapel, Lewes, DE.

Her family will forever be grateful for the extraordinary care that Eleanor received at Cadbury at Lewes, as well as from the caregivers from the Vitas hospice organization.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests that donations be made to Hagley Museum and Library, 200 Hagley Creek Road Wilmington, DE 19807 or to Vitas Community Connection (

Please visit Eleanor's Life Memorial Webpage and sign her online guestbook at
Published in The News Journal from Apr. 7 to Apr. 9, 2017
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