Dr. Eloise K. Jelinek

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  • "Eloise, I will miss you dearly. You were a great source of..."
    - Lynn Nichols
  • "Eloise was an inspiring linguist and an inspiring person...."
    - Mary Laughren
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    - Maria Florez-Leyva
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    - Andrew Carnie
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Eloise Jelinek Dr. Eloise K. Jelinek, Professor Emerita of Linguistics at the University of Arizona, died on December 21, 2007 following a prolonged illness. She was born Mary Eloise Bull to Ina Mae and W.B. ("Dick") Bull in Dallas, Texas on February 10, 1924. Her early years were spent among a large and supportive extended family in many different areas of Texas frequently under conditions of economic hardship. It was during this period that she became fascinated listening to a language other than her own and began to acquire a fluency in Spanish that she retained throughout her life. This curiosity about languages and how they differed ultimately led her to graduate work in Linguistics at the University of Michigan. While a student there she married Arthur Jelinek, a student in Anthropology, who subsequently became a professor at the University of Arizona. After many years of devotion to her family, Eloise resumed her graduate work in linguistics at the University of Arizona, where she received her Ph.D under the guidance of the late Adrian Akmajian. During her professional career in Tucson she conducted especially intensive research on several Native American Languages, ranging from Coast Salish in the Northwest to Athabaskan and Yaqui in the Southwest, always within a more comprehensive framework of interpretation of variation within basic universals common to all languages. She taught and worked with many Native American students, ultimately guiding two to PhDs in Linguistics, taught workshops on Yaqui grammar for Yaqui language teachers during several summers, and traveled to Oklahoma, Washington, and British Columbia for linguistic field work. Late in her career she was exceptionally gratified to receive a published volume of papers in her honor written by close colleagues and to attend a conference in Utrecht, Netherlands that recognized her professional achievements. She was a very special person to those around her, and a brilliant scholar whose contributions will continue to influence her field. Surviving family includes her husband, Arthur; her son, Rev. A. Thomas Jelinek of Surprise, AZ; a sister, Ina Margaret (Melvin) Bondy of Cranberry, New Jersey; and five nephews and a niece. The family would like to express particular appreciation to the doctors and staff of the University of Arizona Cancer Center, whose caring treatment enabled her to have many more productive years than would have been possible otherwise and to the caregivers at Mountain View Retirement Village, Casa de la Luz Hospice, and Kanmar Place who provided comfort at the end of her life. A memorial service for Eloise will be held at the First United Methodist Church at Park Avenue and 4th Street in Tucson at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, January 26. Contributions in her memory may be made to the University of Arizona Department of Linguistics Ken Hale Endowment, which she helped to establish to further Native American Linguistic studies.
Published in the Arizona Daily Star on Jan. 20, 2008