Eleanor Norene (Harper) Edinger

Eleanor Norene (Harper) Edinger was born September 9, 1931, to the Reverend Ralph D. Harper and Marion (Potter) Harper.  She was the oldest of four children, with siblings Clarice (Harper) McKenzie, Lyle Harper and Margret (Harper) Seymore.  As the child of a Methodist minister, Eleanor called many places home, eventually graduating from Fenton High School in Fenton, Michigan in 1949.  While in Fenton, she met her future husband, William “Bill” Harvey Edinger.  Eleanor attended Bronson School of Nursing, graduating with a diploma as a Registered Nurse.

            While Eleanor was attending Bronson and Bill was attending Adrian College they were secretly married when Bill was drafted into the U.S. Army during the Korean War.  (Surprisingly, at that time, nursing students were required to be single, and could be expelled for marrying!)  Both completed their studies, Eleanor becoming a nurse, Bill becoming a teacher.  Eleanor and Bill had three children, Steven Allen Edinger, Lyle Richard Edinger and Marianne Edinger.  Eleanor’s favorite occupation was “full time mother and housewife”.  She also worked as a nurse at several hospitals, but her main professional occupation for 19 years was as a Nursing Instructor at the Hurley Hospital School of Nursing, where she helped many students learn to be nurses.

            All three kids remember mom being the greatest mom ever.  Helping with homework.  Mom and Dad taking us camping, a lifelong love for all three kids.  Watching over us while we were swimming.  Teaching us how to make sandcastles.  Always encouraging us and pushing us when needed.  Steve remembers mom bravely holding Mike, the Morgan horse, while he sprayed water on Mike’s sore feet.  Mom said her nursing training didn’t include horses.  Eleanor was always an avid reader, science student and nature lover, traits she passed on to all three of her kids.

            Eleanor’s story is not complete without mentioning her chronic progressive rheumatoid arthritis, which left its mark on her life and her body.  Her hands bore the most obvious scars of this disease.  In life, like in cards, you have to play the hand you are dealt.  All three of her kids agree Eleanor played her hand as well as it could be played, enjoying the good things in life (family, friends, birds, flowers, science news) and bearing the bad as well as it can be done.

            In 1981 Eleanor and Bill divorced.  They later became friends again and remained so until Bill’s death.  Their common interests include their three kids and six grandchildren.  After their divorce, Eleanor had two men who played significant roles in her life, Robert “Bob” Haight (deceased) and Ronald “Ron” Pennington (deceased).  Eleanor said all three men played different but important roles at different times in her life.  All three are sadly missed, as is she.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Rheumatoid Arthritis Foundation or Western Michigan University’s Bronson School of Nursing.

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Clarice J. McKenzie
April 3, 2024 at 3:28 pm

Sister Clarice misses Ellie Who can I call who remembers our childhood? She hung on as long as she could but helping me understand she was so tired of the arthritis pains. Ellie, you are a much loved big sister. The picture is beautiful as she was also beautiful in spirit.


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