Eleanor Joyce Knapton Schoonover, 1929–2020.
The dash between Eleanor’s birth and death represents the life she lived, a long series of dashes.
Eleanor was born “at home” in her aunt’s house on Himrod Road on September 8, 1929, to Albert and Grace Knapton. She moved to the farm across from where the Himrod Hardware is now located. She had two older siblings, Doris Corey who got married when Eleanor was seven years old and Bernard. Mom felt as though she had grown up as an only child. She attended the one-room school house just across the yard from her home, where she remembers having to go and look for just the right stick to use for punishment if she got in to trouble. Looking for the stick was punishment in itself. She graduated from Penn Yan Academy in 1948. She graduated from beauty school in Elmira and rode the train from Himrod. She met Bob Schoonover when riding the train from Himrod to Penn Yan. They dated and were married on January 1, 1948. They had planned to honeymoon in Niagara Falls, but ended up on this side of the tracks in Canandaigua because a train had derailed due to a winter storm. She worked as a hairdresser for several years, but didn’t keep her license when she started a family. Her first-born was stillborn. Robyn came along on December 31, 1952, the day before her parents were married – giggle-, giggle – but five years later, Jill joined the family on June 4, 1955.
She was a stay-at-home mother, acting as a “room mother” in her kids’ classrooms. a 4-H leader -chaperoning many trips, one to Alma, Ontario where they met some wonderful lifelong friends. She and Bob went camping with the family, starting out in a pop-up camper and eventually in a motorhome. They were members of Willie & Co. Fan Club and followed the ventriloquist and her “figure” to rallies. They were able to take a cross-country trip with another couple. They were able to travel around Europe with an English couple that they’d met on the same 4-H trip. She and Bob chaperoned the band trips, too. “Mrs. Spoonholder” taught Sunday School. She liked to sew and made many outfits for the girls and their dolls. She made most of the costumes that the girls wore in their tap-dancing recital. She joined craft clubs and made some beautiful projects. She had an extensive Santa Claus collection that she enjoyed sharing with guests at her yearly Open House. She drove a Penn Yan school bus for a number of years. She also tied grapes for a number of years. She was a driver for Mennonite families and became close friends with many of them. She and Dad had an exchange student from Sweden. She was very involved in her church. She attended Second Milo Baptist Church, Milo Center United Methodist Church, and the Penn Yan First Presbyterian Church where she volunteered tirelessly and met many friends over the years. She sang in the church choir. She was the bookkeeper for Bob’s construction business. She was a great cook/baker. She is famous for her mac & cheese. They participated in a square dance club. They were also busy with many community groups. She and Bob hosted many “Card Parties” for the AF (Adult Fellowship). They started the first 4-H ice cream booth at the Penn Yan Fair. They worked at Ox Roasts and Smorgasbords. She kept a meticulous home and also took much pride in her appearance. In her later years, she went with Robyn to her activities and was known as “Mom” at many of them.
Eleanor was an organizer. She kept up with her photograph albums with pictures of family and trips. She transferred the notes she highlighted on each year’s calendar into a little black notebook that has settled many an argument over the years- “How long have we had this refrigerator?” “She/He was born on…? “ When were we in…? ” She recorded all birthdays, anniversaries, and deaths in this book is a real treasure
She loved her grand and great-grandchildren – Cason (12), Mateo (11), Jaxon (6), Brynleigh (3), Abigail (3), and Sophia (3 months). They will miss her!
For the past few years, family and friends have met at Mac’s Ice Cream to celebrate her birthday. This year on her 90th birthday, an open house was held in her honor at the Penn Yan Elk’s Club.
A small group of family members will gather at Weldon’s Funeral Home on Friday, May 8, and then she will be buried next to her husband Bob, married 65 years and infant son at Second Milo Cemetery. She is survived by her daughters Robyn (Duane) and Jill and 4 grandchildren Devon (Nicole), Ben (Allison), Tommy (Meghan) and Kari as well as 6 great-grand children. A memorial service will be planned when we can join together in larger groups. Many people have already called or sent messages with wonderful memories. If you have anything you’d like to share, please send us your stories so will have them for the Celebration of Life when things get back to “normal.”