Floral 14

Elayne Eberhart

September 29, 1935 ~ December 29, 2023 (age 88) 88 Years Old

Elayne Eberhart Obituary

There are some people who make a difference wherever they go.  Such was Mary Elayne Eberhart – Boss Lady, Queenie, Her Majesty, Mrs. Eberhart, Mom, and Granny.  A true force of nature.

Born into a large, boisterous, and energetic Ukrainian family in a small coal mining town northeast of Scranton, Pennsylvania, on September 29, 1935, Elayne Duick was raised by her mother and a houseful of aunts and uncles in her grandparents’ home.  Her aunt Helen recognized and supported her intellectual curiosity from her earliest years with poetry, games, singing, books, and listening to the Metropolitan Opera on Saturdays, singing along as she scrubbed the floor and helped make pagach, blintzes, halupchi, and pierogies for the coming week.  Others recognized her talent, too.  In the eighth grade her teacher, Miss Pettigrew, excused her from class and led her to a store of books in the school’s attic.

She graduated from Cedar Crest College for Women in Allentown, Pennsylvania, the first in her family to attend college, and where during summers she worked as a waitress at Day’s Tea Room in Ocean Grove, New Jersey.  Elayne saw there was a big, exciting, and varied world beyond her hometown and wanted to be part of it.

After college her future husband, Robert Eberhart from Philadelphia, was posted to Korea as an officer in the US Army.  Elayne found a position with the Department of Army Special Services setting up recreation programs for enlisted men in Korea so she could be close to Bob.  They had three wedding ceremonies in quick succession, once in the American Embassy, once by the mayor of Seoul, and once in a Lutheran mission in Hong Kong, where their best man was an Australian and the maid of honor was a Chinese woman from Shanghai.

Over the next twenty years she and Bob raised their children while living in Detroit and Sturgis, Michigan, Waynesboro, Virginia, and Elkhart, Indiana before finally settling in Jackson in 1972.  During those child-raising years Elayne’s activities centered around the activities of her five children: band and orchestra, Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, PTA, figure skating, gymnastics, swimming, tennis, and more. All the while passing on to them her love of learning, history, music, culture, humor, and adventure.

In 1982, with an empty nest approaching and aided by a grant from the American Association of University Women – with whom she was active – Elayne began taking bookkeeping classes at Jackson Community College.  She accepted a position at Michigan International Speedway, and with her quick wit, attention to detail, and commanding presence quickly rose to Controller of Penske Speedways.

Raising five children and working full-time would be enough for most people, but Elayne loved to travel, to entertain, was a beloved cook, and was active in her community throughout her life.  She was with the Girl Scouts for over forty years including Treasurer and Trustee of the Endowment Fund for the Irish Hills Girl Scout Council, was active in her church, assisted with the United Way, was active in AAUW and many other community organizations and programs.  She is best known for her work with the Jackson Symphony Guild, which she was compelled to join because of her love for music and her appreciation of the richness the orchestra adds to the community of Jackson.  Her absolute joy was sharing a task with people she respected and admired.

After retiring from Penske Speedways in 1999, Elayne had more time for her beloved hobby of stitching, producing beautiful works that adorn her home, those of her children and cousins, and those of her friends.  She also organized relief efforts for the citizens of Ukraine, regularly sending aid packages, and most recently sent 400 hand-made quilts for refugees in Europe. How did she have time for her social joys of Bridge Club, Friday Club, Twilighter Golf, and others?

So many things made her happy: a conversation with any grandchild, her back porch swing when it’s raining, fresh strawberries, hot, fresh bread with good butter, hanging sheets on the line, a cup of hot tea with a good friend, any game with her family (as long as she won), fresh baked cookies, silliness and good jokes, an evening at the symphony, stitching with the ladies, a baby, talking about Ukraine, playing bridge with her buddies, a week at Macatawa Park, and most of all, laughing at the absurdities that we call life.

Elayne remained active in the lives of her children and grandchildren, her neighborhood, and her community until her death on December 29, 2023 surrounded by her children. She was preceded in death by her parents and brother, her husband of fifty-six years, Bob, and Maria Callas, Pavarotti, Alister Cook, and Queen Elizabeth II.  She is survived by five children, Bobby (Delores), Chris (Mary Jo), Holly Eberhart Smith, Lauri (Rob Klibenski), and Emily (Keith) McCormick, grandchildren Nathan, Ella, Grace (Ben) Mitchell, Daniel, Max, Ev, Claire, Will, Bennett, Andrew, Mallory, MaryEllen, and Maggie and was looking forward to the birth of her first great-grandchild in June.

Funeral services will be held at Immanual Lutheran Church in Jackson on Sunday February 4 at 1 pm.

Please join her family at an open house to remember Elayne at her home, on Saturday February 3 from 1 pm – 5 pm.

In lieu of flowers, please consider a gift in her name to the Jackson Symphony Orchestra, Girl Scouts of America, or Immanuel Lutheran Church.

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Elayne Eberhart, please visit our floral store.

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Funeral Service
February 4, 2024

1:00 PM
Immanuel Lutheran Church
1505 W. Michigan Ave.
Jackson, MI 49203


Jackson Symphony Orchestra
215 W. Michigan Avenue, Jackson MI 49201
Tel: 1-517-782-3221
Web: https://www.jacksonsymphony.org/

Immanuel Lutheran Church
1505 W. Michigan Avenue, Jackson MI 49202

Girl Scouts of America. Jackson Regional Center
4403 Francis Sreet, Jackson MI 49203
Tel: 1-517-784-8543


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