Eleanor Audrey was born in Markdale on January 3, 1932 to parents Ernest and Violet (Moore) Smart. She joined her older sister (Myrtle 1930) and their family was made complete with the arrival of her brother Raymond in 1934. The Smart family resided in the hamlet of Harkaway, approximately 7 miles outside of Markdale. Eleanor had many fond memories from her youth, which included playing with the family puppy Bud, along with her siblings. She had a love for horses as well. Both caring for and riding them. Fond memories. She also enjoyed the challenge of climbing trees, often challenging her younger brother to a race. Once in the tree, Raymond often had difficulties getting back down, which often provided excellent entertainment for Eleanor.
Eleanor attended Rosedale School, graduating from Grade 8 with honours. Unfortunately, she did not have the opportunity to pursue a high school education. During this time, War caused many hardships and the Smart family was not immune to these challenges. Eleanor recalled the war rations, whereby her grandparents would often provide additional sugar and honey to get their family of 5 through the difficult times. By the age of 13, she was helping cook for 100 men daily. It was during this time that she assisted in caring for her aging grandparents and took up waitressing. Later in years, Eleanor took up residence in London, Ontario and started her new life waitressing.
While caring for Anne (1952), she met Raymond Copeland. The Copeland family continued to grow in the years that followed with the arrivals of Margaret (1953), Raymond (1955), Lorne (1957), Carol (1959), and Dennis (1961). In addition to raising her young family, Eleanor worked in the housekeeping department of the Markdale Hospital. Times were tough for Eleanor and this caused the Copeland family to move several times before finally settling in Vesta in 1967. Soon after Eleanor began working outside the home again as she took a job at Heirloom Furniture Factory in Chesley, working there for several years.
Eleanor loved her crafts and was a very creative woman. She enjoyed quilting, knitting, flower arrangements, renting tables at several local craft shows. At one time, she even dabbled in liquid embroidery. Her talent was writing poetry and spent hours expressing herself through her words. Summer and Fall seasons were Eleanor’s favourite times in the year. She spent hours picking all types of berries and apples, later to prepare them for canning or her freezer. Her bounty was shared throughout her family and her community. In the Fall, she loved taking in the beautiful colours by taking drives through Beaver Mountain as well as the Agawa Canyon Tour Train.
Her favourite colour was purple. She loved the colour purple so much that at one point she spent time looking for a purple house to purchase. When it came to music, she loved the likes of Johnny Cash, Hank Snow, Bing Crosby, and Lawrence Welk. She loved to dance and sing to Crystal Chandelier. Eleanor enjoyed reading true stories and often lost time when reading her books. She had a fondness for dogs and cats, having a four-legged companion often by her side throughout much of her life. Horses played an important part in her entire life too. She loved to care for them, ride them, attend horse races and admired the Amish horses and buggies which took her to her past. She enjoyed her coffee but you had to ensure you added lots of milk NOT cream. Eleanor always loved eating olives and pickles after dessert. Yes, you read that correctly. She claimed this ’took the sweetness from her mouth’.
Once Dennis finished high school and made his career choice, Eleanor moved to Kitchener for a few years. Here she worked as a personal support worker before returning back to Chesley in the early 80’s. She took a job at Elgin Abbey and remained there until her retirement at the age of 65.
Throughout her life, Eleanor was a true survivor and continued to put her family first, always providing for them. She could always make something out of nothing and at one point in her life owned two houses and two cars, yet never made an income over $10,000 in her working career. What an amazing feat! She accomplished all this by being frugal and saving, never one to throw anything away. When asked what Eleanor collected, her children quickly responded…everything or what didn’t she collect. Very eclectic!
Eleanor found love again when she began dating Ross Becker in 1988. Four years later they married (1992), settling in Chesley. Sadly, Ross died in 1996, leaving Eleanor on her own again.
To fulfill her life again, she started volunteering which took up much of her free time as she enjoyed helping at the local senior homes on day trips and was active with the children’s groups at Geneva Presbyterian Church. In her later years, her free time was spent travelling, whereby she experienced all three coasts of Canada, Cuba, and Florida.
She spent as much time as she could with her 19 grandchildren. Depending on the child, she would attend sporting events, plays, or musical performances. She loved spending quality time with her family. In more recent years this included getting to know her 17 Great-Grandchildren and 1 Great-Great Granddaughter.
In 2010, Eleanor sold her home and moved into an apartment. She enjoyed her regular trips to Mocha Café to catch up with friends and the local news. She often remarked that she knew someone wherever she went, with few exceptions.
Eleanor was a warm, loving woman who loved adventures. She always encouraged her children to reach for the stars. Her generosity and kindness were ever-present as was her acceptance of everyone around her. She was truly a “one of a kind woman”.
Although in recent years her body started to fail, her mind remained ‘sharp as a tack’ and her memory was outstanding. She could easily tell stories and reminisce about all aspects of her life. If you are looking for an entertaining story just ask her kids about Eleanor shooting groundhogs from her bathroom window or the time the dog grabbed the meat before Easter dinner. These memories and stories will remain with her children, grandchildren and their families for many years to come.
Sadly, Eleanor passed away at South Bruce Grey Health Centre, Chesley on Sunday, February 23, 2020 in her 89th year.
Beloved mother of Anne Smith of Cambridge, Margaret (Doug) Adams of London, Raymond (Lori) Copeland of Kitchener, Lorne (Gwen) Copeland of Vanastra, Carol (Charlie) Vallie of Oshawa and Dennis (Tracy) Copeland of Chesley. Cherished grandmother of Angela (Kevin), Tony (Kathleen), Lynette (Sony), Leanne (David), Lorri (Brandon), Melissa (Tony), Justin (Brianna) Jason, Terri-lyn, Shaye, Jamie (Amelia), Destiny, Josh, Jeremy (Haley) Tyler (Mandi), Amber-lee (Rob), Jay (Vicki), Joey, Dylan, and Becky. Eleanor will be fondly remembered by her great-grandchildren Courtney, Karalise, Wesley, Cordelia, Braiden, Seth, Raymond, Mitchel, Charlie, James, Luna, Stella, Ryker, Jasper, Lincoln, Elliot, and Hallie as well as great-great-granddaughter Rilee. She will be dearly missed by her sister Myrtle Wiley and sister-in-law Kathleen Smart, both of Meaford. Eleanor was predeceased by her first husband Raymond Copeland, second husband Ross Becker, brother Raymond Smart, son-in-law Moe Smith, granddaughter Rene Copeland and her parents Ernest and Violet (Moore) Smart.
Visitation will be held at Geneva Presbyterian Church, Chesley on Saturday, February 29, 2020 from 11 a.m. until the time of the funeral service at 1 p.m. Spring interment in Chesley Cemetery.
Memorial donations to Geneva Presbyterian Church or Chesley Hospital Foundation would be appreciated as expressions of sympathy.Send to friend