HERINGTON - Eleanore Frances Hildegard Holmgren Rucker
On August 5, 1920, in the Lincolnville Kansas Holmgren family home, a chunky, green eyed, eight and quarter pound baby girl was born. Her birth cost $42.50.
Both of Eleanore’s parents came from immigrant families. Her father, Axel Frithiof Holmgren was born 3 weeks after his Swedish parents landed in the United States. His family came to Kansas and settled in Lindsborg. Eleanore’s Mother, Fanny Marie Kandt, was a descendant of a German family who came to the United States in 1859 to homestead.
Three days after her birth, she was brought to St. John’s Lutheran Church to be made a child of God in Holy Baptism, administered by Reverend Martin Senne, who also married her parents in 1909. Sponsors were Aunt Sophia Kandt, Aunt Ida Ziebell, and next door neightbor, Henry J. Tiemeier.
Eleanore grew up in Lincolnville, which may sound like a slow-paced country town but in 1926 when Eleanore was 6 years old, she and her best friend, Martha DeMand, were going past the Lincolnville bank and became captivated when they saw through the front window the banker with a wooden leg down on one knee with a gun to his back. He was trying to open a round, ball-type vault. They were totally oblivious to the men and the guns. Their fascination was with how Mr. Collins with wooden leg got down on one knee. As they stood outside the bank looking in and discussing Mr. Collins leg, the driver of the getaway car was sitting behind them.
Eleanore went to St. John’s Lutheran Parochial Grade School, a two room school where she was taught according to the 10 Commandments. She and her brother were to respect their teachers and respect the police who represented the “Law” because God, after all, authored the Law.
When Eleanore started school in first grade she went to a school which had two rooms. There were two students in her school who could speak only German. They were welcomed as playmates and became lifelong friends. The school had outhouse toilets and pot-bellied stoves; and the students were expected to help sweep, clean blackboards and erasers.
In eighth grade Eleanore had an emergency appendectomy. There was no hospital in Herington. After packing her in ice for three days, they rushed her to Wichita and operated. Her freshman year, she got the measles, followed by a serious ear infection that drained for weeks as they had no antibiotics.
Eleanore was confirmed in 1934. Her confirmation verse was Psalm 145, verses 18 & 19. “The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon Him, to all that call upon Him in truth. He will fulfil the desire of them that fear Him. He also will hear their cry and will save them.”
Eleanore’s youth included the Great Depression (between October 1929 until 1939, then she was 19) and the Dust Bowl when men making a dollar a day would at least be able to feed the family and $100 per month was considered a good wage. These times also meant that the family car was not for riding around. It was a necessity. As a result, Eleanore didn’t learn to drive until she was in her 30's.
While in high school, Eleanore was in every musical group possible, participated in musical productions like H.M.S. Pinafore and won many vocal competitions. She did have a social life. She enjoyed listening to the Lucky Strike Hit Parade on the radio Saturday evenings. Later she enjoyed the big band era and spent a lot of time listening to groups including Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey, and Lawrence Welk.
She graduated from Lincolnville High School, then received a full scholarship to Chillicothe, the largest Business School in the United States at that time. After school she moved to Kansas City where she worked for the president of a manufacturing company. During a company picnic in Swope Park she met a company employee by the name of Garland L. Rucker who – that same day – told Eleanore’s Office Manager that he was going to marry her.
Garland later joined the army. He was in California on December 7, 1941, when Japan bombed Pearl Harbor. Garland and Eleanore were planning on getting married. He received very short notice of a furlough so he called Eleanore on Wednesday and told her he was on his way to the train to come home. They got married three days later on Saturday, January 9, 1942. They were stationed at Camp Butner, North Carolina; followed by Camp Pickett, Blackstone, Virginia; and Ft. Benning, Georgia. During this period, Eleanore worked as a Civil Service employee in Civilian Personnel. In 1950 when Beech Aircraft opened their Herington Division, she was the first woman hired. At one time there were 750 personnel working at the Herington Airbase. Following the closure of the Herington Division, she worked twenty-two years for Tatge Chemical Company. Her business career spanned forty some years.
Between 1945 and 1957 Eleanore and Garland lived in Kansas and Colorado had four children: Garland L., Jr.; Eleanore; Lyn; and Eric. Together with their spouses, Georgia Rucker, Joan Rucker and David Powell, there are six grandchildren: Ian, Ashton, Halston, Justus, and Jonathan Rucker, and Colgan Powell. There are three great grandchildren: Lillian, Isaac and William Rucker.
Eleanore loved her God, her family and the people in her community (also chocolate, cards and dominoes…and dominoes). She belonged to many clubs and organizations including: Our Redeemer Tabitha, L.W.M.L, Choir and A.A.L.; Founding member of the Tri County Historical Society and Museum; Herington Chamber of Commerce/Main Street; Herington Country Club; Dickinson County Republican Women; Herington Hospital Auxiliary; Talk of the Month; Cosmopolitan Club; P.E.O.; American Legion Auxiliary, V.F.W. Auxiliary, Hobo Pinochle Club. Eleanore lived her life dedicated to Faith, Family and Service. She lived every day with class, dignity and honor, dedicated to others, with determination in spite of great sacrifices, always respecting and sustaining others. She is and will always be profoundly missed.