Hudson native Eleanor Maxine Penman, 92, died Monday, Sept. 13, 2010, at Hudson Hospital, following a short illness. After living in her Third Street home until age 91, she'd recently resided at Pine Ridge Gardens.
She was born Oct. 1, 1917, the last of seven daughters of Henry and Annie Brewer, owner-farmers of the 80-acres along Vine Street which later became Jacobson Woods and Hudson High School. Hudson history shows that it was on that same property that Abigail Page was born, Hudson's first non-Native American baby.
Eleanor attended Hudson Schools, where her favorite extracurricular activity was music. She enjoyed choral music and especially loved playing her trumpet. She told of playing first chair trumpet in jazz, marching and concert bands, plus orchestra. A highly favored Christmas gift in recent years was indeed a new trumpet, since she often spoke of joining the Community Band. As a youngster she took private lessons from Hudson band master James R. Penman, whose Hudson roots went back to 1848, and caught the eye of Penman's oldest son, Del. She joined the Presbyterian church, which Del attended, and they were married in April 1937.
Then began her most cherished life work as homemaker, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. She bore five children, two of whom sadly predeceased her at very young ages: Marilyn, 7, and Sandra (Skyberg), 26. With her troop of local sisters (Marge Larson, Bertha Nelson and Bernice Heckel), family parties abounded, as did gathering together for tasks of wallpapering, canning, baking, etc. During those years she also partnered with Del in entrepreneurial electrical pursuits. Over time they owned three shops in Hudson, selling electrical appliances, contracting, and doing repair work (the first on Main Street, later two locations on Locust Street). Hudson's first two TV sets were at the shop and in their home, and Eleanor was pleased when the high school basketball team visited to watch Lakers games, always serving them popcorn and Kool-Aid. She was active in Cub Scouts, church activities and those relating to her children's school events.
In 1946 Eleanor and Del bought the historic Glover mansion at 1321 Third Street, a beautiful edifice which they saw destroyed by fire in 1984. They enjoyed the one-level home they designed to replace it. Del died shortly thereafter. Eleanor remained there until 2009, making for 63 valued years on the same property.
In 1955 Eleanor began her second beloved career, managing the new Hudson Hospital's business office. She was exceedingly efficient at this work (without computers) and greatly respected by the hundreds who came in contact with her there. She most carefully scheduled vacations with faraway family so they didn't interfere with payroll periods twice a month.
She immensely enjoyed retirement beginning in 1980. She started to travel more and it became a favored interest. By then her circle of little ones was expanding rapidly. She did hands-on nurturing of 12 grandchildren and 15 great grandchildren, all surviving her. Their portraits and snapshots plus school-crafted items and other cherished gifts filled her large home. Neighbor children came through her open door as well, for after-school snacking and TV watching in her family room.
For her 90th birthday the family produced a book and took her cruising on the Mississippi. Her goal was to reach 100, bespeaking her great love of life. She had a great smile (often used), was fiercely independent, directly spoke her opinions, enjoyed company for coffee (inviting every new acquaintance), and throughout her often hectic life mainly enjoyed the simple pleasures.
She was predeceased by her parents; six sisters; husband, Del; two daughters.
Surviving children are Janice (Larry) Fussell of St. Paul, Bruce (Cheri) of Gypsum, Colo., and Brock (Linda) of Woodbury, Minn.; the numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren; three nieces and four nephews.
The O'Connell Family Funeral Home & Countryside Crematory has been entrusted with arrangements.
Her memorial service was held at 11 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 18, at Trinity Lutheran Church, 1205 Sixth St., Hudson. Interment was in the Willow River Cemetery. To honor Eleanor, memorials may be directed to the Hudson Hospital or the American Cancer Society.