A Sacred Moment


Eleanor C. Hill

August 28, 1927 - July 03, 2009

Dear Wife, Mother, Grandmother & Friend

Eleanor Claire Lewis was born on August 28, 1927 at Columbus Hospital, Seattle, Washington. She lived with her mother, Juanita Carter Lewis and father, the Reverend E. Martin Lewis at 326 27th Avenue. In about 1930, the family moved to Harlem in New York City and lived with her father’s sisters, who also had immigrated to New York from Barbados. About 1933, Eleanor’s parents agreed to separate. They did not divorce, however, until June 9, 1944, exactly 18 years from their wedding date, June 9, 1926. Eleanor first lived with her father and aunts and went to live with her mother at about age 15.

While living with her father and aunts, Eleanor attended the Third Moravian Church in downtown New York. Her father’s family had always been Moravian in Barbados and continued that affiliation in New York. Eleanor sat alone in the right-hand front pew, facing three aunts in the choir behind the pulpit. As an adult, she too always sang in a church choir.

Eleanor attended P.S. 113 elementary school and P.S. 81 (Julia Ward Howe Jr. High) in Harlem. Then for two years, Eleanor attended the brand new high school of Music and Art in downtown Manhattan. Eleanor’s class was the first to attend the school.

At the end of those two years, Juanita became ill with appendicitis. Her appendix was frozen and she and Eleanor returned to Seattle to Juanita’s mother. Eleanor had earned enough credits at Music and Art to enable her to graduate in three years instead of four. She graduated from Franklin High School in June 1944 at the age of 16.

During the World War II years, more women had begun working as the men went to war. Juanita, an English and typing teacher, taught Eleanor to type. Juanita pointed out that one could no longer depend upon a husband for financial security; he might become disabled or even die. She wanted Eleanor to be independent. Eleanor’s first “job” was working on the annual membership drive held by the East Madison YMCA.

Eleanor returned to New York to attend college. While attending the College of the City of New York (CCNY), Eleanor met Rudy, her husband-to-be. He was drafted into the Army in 1945 and received an honorable discharge with the rank of Corporal in 1947.

Upon Rudy’s discharge from the Army, they were married on December 24, 1948. Eleanor gave birth to five sons, four of whom lived to adulthood: Martin Nathaniel, Reginald Lewis, Victor Llewellyn and Benjamin Rudolph. They all were born while the family lived at 914 19th Avenue in Seattle.

In late January of 1949, Eleanor joined Rudy working in the Post Office at 3rd Avenue and Jackson Street. As the children arrived, they adapted their working schedules; working different shifts so that they alone would rear them. After Benjamin entered the first grade, the parents both worked days.

Eleanor learned about Africans in their home countries. Education was not easily available there; it was easier for them to be educated in Europe and the United States. Eleanor’s mother, Juanita, had founded a group of nine women that worked under the title, Aid for Africa. The group raised scholarship funds for African students who could get to the United States but needed housing after they arrived. With Rudy’s approval, she brought James Kairo, a Kenyan and cousin to Juanita’s student, into their home in 1963 and enrolled him into Franklin High School.

When Eleanor returned to Seattle in 1946, she sang briefly with the young people’s choir at the First African Methodist Church (AME), where her mother had attended while growing up.

Eleanor and Rudy joined an Episcopal Church, Saint Phillip’s Mission, since Rudy was a “cradle Episcopalian.” It was Eleanor’s philosophy that it really didn’t matter in what denomination they worshiped, so long as they were worshiping together as the children grew up. The children were all acolytes and attended Sunday school regularly.

Eleanor served, first at Saint Phillip’s Mission, which became the Episcopal Church of the Advent, then at Saint Clement of Rome Episcopal Church both in Seattle. She had a good vocal range and served as choir member for many years, singing alto or soprano as needed. She became Choir Coordinator and lector at Saint Clement’s and assisted the Rector with the choir’s work. Eleanor also worked with the Episcopal Churchwomen (ECW) at the Episcopal churches she attended. She enjoyed needlework, and for several years made caps and scarves for the church’s Annual Bazaar. For a short time, Eleanor, Rudy and six other parishioners took literacy training. Eleanor and Rudy tutored adults. Eleanor also served as a volunteer worker at the Central Area Senior Center for about ten years.

Eleanor worked for thirteen years as a Postal Clerk. Eleanor resigned from the Post Office in 1962 and worked at the Seattle World’s Fair. After the Fair, Eleanor graduated from secretarial school and then worked for the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). After HUD, Eleanor worked for the Department of Education as an Equal Opportunity Specialist (EOS). Eleanor investigated complaints against secondary school districts and administrators grades K to 12. Her work involved travel throughout Region X, including Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Alaska and Washington, D.C.

Eleanor also traveled for pleasure, usually with Rudy, meeting old school friends periodically in Nassau, Bahamas; and visiting Mexico City; Jamaica and Barbados in the West Indies; as well as Portugal, Spain, Germany, Morocco, Japan and the Philippine Islands.

Before traveling, Eleanor worked a total of 37 years for the U.S. Government. She retired on December 2, 1988.

Eleanor and her husband, Rudy completed their interrupted education after all their sons had attained their baccalaureate degrees. They attended The Evergreen State College, Tacoma Campus and graduated in June of 1987 with degrees in Liberal Arts.

Eleanor was involved with the Eastern Star and held offices through Worth Matron. She was an original member of the Central Area Senior Center Sliders who performed events all over town. Most recently she was a board member of the Black Heritage Society.

Eleanor will be sorely missed by her family and friends.


Memorial Service will be held Saturday July 11, 2009 at 1:00 PM at St. Clement Episcopal Church at 1501 32nd Avenue South, Seattle, WA 98144. Link to map of church is posted below.


Memorial Contributions for the late Eleanor C. Hill may be made to: Saint Clement of Rome Episcopal Church 1501 32nd Avenue S Seattle, WA 98144


Just as the Wave Cannot Exist

Just as the wave cannot exist for itself, but is ever a part of the heaving surface of the ocean, so must I never live my life for itself, but always in the experience which is going on around me. It is an uncomfortable doctrine which the true ethics whisper into my ear. You are happy, they say; therefore you are called upon to give much.

Albert Schweitzer

Looking into the portals of eternity

Looking into the portals of eternity teaches that the brotherhood of man is inspired by God's word; Then all prejudice of race vanishes away.

George Washington

Char BarrettHComment