Eleanor Susan Gallison died at home in Turlock, November 25, 2015. She was 97.
Eleanor was born July 19, 1918 to Martin and Mathilda Blid, whose parents were Swedish immigrants, in Roseau, Minnesota near the Canadian border. She remembered as a child riding in a sleigh, being shadowed by wolves on the way to the store, and her brother riding the ice floes into town. When she was six, Eleanor moved to the West Coast, first to Tacoma, Washington and then to Turlock, where her mother ran the West Hotel on West Main Street, and later, the White Lunch restaurant on Broadway.
She graduated from Turlock High School in 1936 and was honored for academic achievement with a front page photo in the Turlock Journal. She went on to the University of California at Berkeley and earned a degree in English literature. At Cal her scholarly intellect flourished, and the education she received there carried her throughout life. She was an expressive writer, and read everything, from novels and poetry to complex history and social science. She remained curious, politically aware, and a staunch advocate of civil rights.
While working summers during college as a waitress in Mariposa, serving Yosemite tourists, Eleanor met another Cal graduate, Joe Gallison, the son of a pioneer family there. They married, and after the war, found a home on Sycamore Street with their children, Joe, Mark and Susan.
Eleanor was a loving and attentive mother who read to her children, encouraged imaginative play, took them to the old Carnegie library several times a week, and to Sunday School at the Presbyterian Church. She always modeled compassion for others, including animals, and this behavior was expected from her children at all times. She also knew what was magical for a child, and Christmas mornings made dreams come true.
Eleanor loved the Sierra Nevada, and in a moment of supreme luck, she bought the oldest summer cabin in Dardanelle at the foot of the Sonora Pass. Happy years were spent there hiking, rock-hunting, fort-building, reading by lantern light, and cooking on the old wood stove. A black Lab, Sam, I, and later Sam, II, always led the way on trails, just as they accompanied her around town everywhere she went in the car.
Well into her seventies, Eleanor continued to hike and took her children and grandchildren on annual trips to the Tuolumne Meadows High Country Camp. As others much younger flagged on the trail at 11,000 ft., she still “just wanted to see what was on the other side of that rise”. She revered nature and found joy in the history and beauty of mountain granite, birdsong, big trees and rushing streams.
With her children grown, Eleanor volunteered with the local animal rescue organization, and the Friends of the Library. She also embraced her Swedish heritage, attending Swedish classes at the Turlock Adult School for many years. She relished the stimulation of language-learning and the tight-knit class members became good friends.
When each of her three grandchildren was born, Eleanor came to help, and there began relationships that were mutually cherished and lifelong. She was so proud of Jennifer, Wade, and Amanda and she was there for all their milestones, at least in spirit, however far away.
In recent years, Eleanor remained at home in the daily care of her son, Mark. She continued to read three newspapers cover-to-cover, watch the leaves on the Sycamore trees change, and enjoy the company of the cats. She was pre-deceased by her beloved son, Joe.
She is survived by her son, Mark Gallison, of Turlock; her daughter, Susan Reiterman of San Francisco; her grandchildren Jennifer Gallison of Seattle, WA; Wade Gallison of Escondido, CA; and Amanda Reiterman Anjelly of Providence, RI. She also leaves two great grandchildren: Lucas Gallison and Annika Anjelly.
She was interred at Turlock Memorial Park and will be remembered for her kindness, intelligence, and loving spirit.