Eleanor Munger, 99, of Sioux City, Iowa, formerly of Vermillion, South Dakota, passed away Thursday, September 17, 2020 at UnityPoint Health-St. Luke’s in Sioux City.
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Eleanor Elizabeth Witty was born September 30, 1920 in Springfield, Illinois to George and Talvi (Purvines) Witty. She had one sibling, a younger sister Sally Marilyn (Robert) Butcher, now deceased.
Eleanor was raised on her family’s farm near Pleasant Plains, Illinois and attended MacMurray College in Jacksonville, Illinois. As a farm youngster, she became an accomplished horsewoman and while at MacMurray she was part of the college horsemanship team, which competed with other school teams. In addition, she also competed individually in various riding and showmanship events.
After two years of study at MacMurray, Eleanor transferred to the University of Illinois at Champaign, Illinois, from which she graduated in 1942 with a Bachelor of Arts Degree (Sociology major). She was a member of the Chi Omega sorority while a student at the University of Illinois. Following this she taught in a country school in Sangamon County, Illinois, near Pleasant Plains.
In December of 1943, at the home of her parents in Pleasant Plains, she was united in marriage with Stanley P. Munger of Sioux City, Iowa. Her husband, being a newly commissioned officer in the Naval Reserve with orders in hand, was allowed a short and hasty honeymoon, typical of the times. It consisted of a couple of days in nearby St. Louis, and a day and a half in Chicago, using the old Illinois Railroad “Green Diamond” parlor car service for transportation. The couple always recalled the event, with good humor
Eleanor was able to join Stan at his first duty station, the Amphibious Warfare base in Coronado, California for three months before he was assigned shipboard duty in the Pacific. During the next eighteen months there were only two occasions where she and Stan were able to share a little time together as a result of his ship returning to the States on special assignment. Long periods of separation filled with anxiety and uncertainty were common for all married couples in the military services. Eleanor spent some of her waiting time working for Time Magazine in Champaign, Illinois.
Following Stan’s discharge from active duty in January 1946, the couple moved to Sioux City and then in 1947 to Vermillion, South Dakota, where he became engaged in the farm management and livestock farming business.
During the years following her arrival in the Vermillion community, Eleanor served in a variety of church, sorority, social, and charitable activities, including and especially, activities involving the Congregational Church (now UCC Vermillion) Women’s Fellowship program as well as serving for a number of years as a Deaconess. Over the years she served in all the offices of Chapter BL of the P.E.O. Sisterhood including President in 1967. Also, at one time, she served as an advisor to the University of South Dakota Chapter of Chi Omega sorority.
In 1970, Eleanor and Stanley were honored to be selected as “Parents of the Year” by Iowa State University from which all their children graduated. She was also especially proud to have been honored with the Paul Harris Fellowship Medal in recognition of her devoted support of her husband and the local Rotary Club at the time of her husband’s service as Governor of District 5610, Rotary International.
Eleanor was noted for her outstanding culinary skills. She collected recipes and cookbooks and made a special effort to instruct and pass on her culinary talent and information to her children and grandchildren, even to the point of making a video tape of instructions for preparing a several-generations-old family recipe that the family knows as “chili sauce.”
Throughout her life, it was a great joy to Eleanor’s heart to know the companionship and fellowship of her beloved lady friends and to participate in their social events entertaining, bridge playing, and sharing family times together. Always attracted to outdoor activities, she enjoyed hiking the trails of Estes Park, Colorado where the family often vacationed, and she was an active participant in the fishing, sailing, and other water activities during summers at the family cottage on Gull Lake, Minnesota.
Eleanor was a master sailor and in 1972 she and Stan acquired a sloop-rigged “Cruisemaster 37” sailboat designed for ocean cruising and this began a seven year series of cruises starting in Mystic, Connecticut and ending in Road Town, Tortola, British West Indies in 1979. Since the two sailed alone, as the only crew, Eleanor performed equally all the shipboard duties from standing-watch-and-watch to navigating, night or day, storm or calm.
Eleanor is survived by their son George H. (Anne O’Donnell) Munger of Bellingham, Washington, and their son Clark (Sarah Kelln) of Edmond, Oklahoma. Another son Stanley E. (Mary Plambeck) Munger of Sioux City, Iowa and their three children: Elizabeth (Jess Holland) Munger of Iowa City, Iowa, Mark (Carolina Hotchandani) Munger of Omaha, Nebraska and Kathryn Munger Key of Seattle, Washington. Also, by their daughter Kathryn P. (David) Brown of Hayward, Wisconsin and their two children: Sarah (Eric) Hansen of Lisbon, Wisconsin and Codias (Sanda) Brown of Austin, Texas. Eleanor, known as Bing to her grandchildren and great grandchildren, is also survived by seven great grandchildren: Noah (11), Caleb (9), Ben (7) and Luke (5) Hansen; Abigail (9) and Madeline (6) Munger and Arienne (5) Hotchandani-Munger. Additionally, by her niece Diane (Butcher) Clemmons, The Villages, Florida and two nephews Robert Butcher, Pleasant Plains, Illinois and Richard Butcher, Phoenix, Arizona.
A precious, loving and wonderful wife, mother, daughter, aunt, grandmother and great grandmother, and good friend to so many, Eleanor will remain an inspiring soul to all her family.
Because of concerns about Covid-19 a family memorial service will be planned for a later date.
The family suggests donations in lieu of other remembrances to United Church of Christ Vermillion (uccvermillion.org).