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Eleanor Ruth McEwen

Eleanor Ruth McEwen Eleanor Ruth McClure McEwen was born September 18, 1923 in Republic, Kansas and died at age 97 on October 22, 2020 at the Good Shepherd Hospice House in Manhattan, Kansas. She was the daughter of Mildred Newsham McClure and William H. McClure, Sr.
Eleanor’s lifetime of caregiving began at the age of six when her parents divorced. Her attorney/farmer father was awarded sole custody, thus creating a separation from her mother which would last until she became an adult. She looked after her younger brother Billy and became the woman of the house. Eleanor’s Aunt Bertha McClure taught her to sew and became a mentor. Years later Eleanor would become a daily caregiver to her father and eventually to her mother and stepfather as they spent their final years in Belleville care facilities.
Eleanor was a strong student, graduating from Republic High School and earning a Normal Training Certificate which allowed her to teach in the Stover one room school and in the Republic school. Her one and only beau, Donald McEwen, courted her in the kitchen of the McClure home and they were married December 28, 1941, celebrating 63 years together until Donald’s death in 2004. They began married life in a small house four miles east of Republic, until moving onto the McEwen family homesteads (celebrating 140 years this year) a mile further east.
Eleanor and Donald were the parents of three children; Charles, Nancy and Pat. In addition to childcare, Eleanor was a full partner with Donald and Charles in the farming operation; meticulous bookkeeping, (adapting from penciled spreadsheets to computerized records), plowing, helping herd cattle when necessary, shuttling equipment between fields, delivering meals during harvest…all the while running the household with loads of laundry in the wringer washer hauled up from the basement and outside to dry on the clothesline, meal preparation, cleaning, gardening, canning, and raising chickens. Eleanor sewed beautifully, which was important to her daughters because they only had “store bought” clothing once they went away to college! She created all the costumes for their high school musical roles, as well as their bridesmaid dresses. Eleanor’s breadmaking and pie baking were legendary, with KSU tailgate friends still remembering her trunkloads of delicious apple pies.
An unusual piece of Eleanor’s story is that she and Donald rented a home in Belleville for eight years while Nancy and Pat attended junior high and high school in Belleville. They wanted the girls to be close to school, activities and friends without the 13 mile drive to the farm multiple times a day…yet another example of Eleanor’s caregiving as this required maintenance of both households. Her “town kitchen” became the gathering spot for the girls’ friends to enjoy homemade cookies and unsolicited but oft-heeded advice on all matters…frequently peppered with platitudes remembered to this day, eg. “You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar” and “He/she has a hard row to hoe.”
Besides their agricultural operation, Eleanor and Donald spent their time attending every single athletic and school activity event of their three children and later, many of those of their grandchildren. Their car was always full of athletes or cheerleaders or fans heading to events. They held season KSU basketball tickets and missed very few games in Ahearn Fieldhouse, traveling two hours each way. Neither attended college themselves but they valued education and they loved K-State. They were proud that all three of their children, as well as their children-in-law, earned degrees from KSU. Their Moms’ and Dads’ Weekends at the Kappa House are treasured memories, along with their family treks to all the KSU Bowl games while grandson Matt played.
Eleanor was an active and longtime member of Belleville’s First United Methodist Church where she taught children’s Sunday School classes and baked pies for the Church’s food stand at the county fair. She enjoyed her friends in the I Go You Go extension homemakers unit and together she & Donald loved their monthly pitch parties with friends and relatives. They enjoyed piling into the van with the Knopps for vacations and extensive trips abroad to wherever the McCunes were living, including London and Brussels.
Eleanor’s transition from the farm to Manhattan began with her and Donald wintering with the Knopps. She became a member of PEO Chapter IU and Polly Ogden Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution and was a front row fixture at Manhattan’s First United Methodist Church. In September of 2014 she moved into Lyle House at Meadowlark Hills where the excellent staff led by Director Sherri Smith provided loving care for her for six years, including the six months of isolation from family she endured because of Covid 19. Her transition into the Good Shepherd Hospice House in September allowed precious time with family members for which they are eternally grateful.
Eleanor was preceded in death by her husband Donald McEwen, her parents, her stepfather Ervin Williams, and her brother William H. McClure, Jr. She is survived by her children: son Charles (Carolyn) McEwen of Belleville and Phoenix, AZ; daughter Nancy (Joe) Knopp of Manhattan; and daughter Pat (Greg) McCune of Manhattan. Eleanor’s seven grandchildren include Scott McEwen of Wichita; Matt (Kristen) McEwen of Scottsdale, AZ; Katie (Matt) Knopp Gaetke of Washington, DC; Andy (Jenny) Knopp of Seoul, South Korea; Mitchell Knopp and fiancée Catherine Borod of Jersey City, NJ; Eric McCune and fiancée Megan Dwyer of Kyle, TX; and Sarah McCune of Austin, TX. Eleanor’s seven great grandchildren include Devan McEwen of Lebo, KS; Kylie and Logan McEwen of Scottsdale, AZ; Meghan, Anna and John Gaetke of Washington, DC; and Alexander Knopp of Seoul, South Korea.
A private inurnment will be held at the Washington Cemetery near the family farm. Memorials to the “Meadowlark Lyle House Activity Fund“ or to.the ”Republic County High School Trophy Case Fund” may be sent to the Yorgensen-Meloan-Londeen Funeral Home, 1616 Poyntz Avenue, Manhattan, Kansas, 66502. A video tribute will be available on the YML website.
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