Born in Los Angeles on May 29, 1934, the only child of LeRoy and Wanda Starke, Eleanor grew up in Canoga Park CA, and moved with her folks to Sutter County at the end of WWII, joining Wanda’s sisters, Ruth and Clara as individual orchard keepers on the County’s fertile
land. Eleanor attended Brittan School and Sutter High School, attended Brigham Young College and was employed by the California Board of Nursing Examiners in Sacramento.
In 1954 she met 2nd Lt. Robert Mackensen of St. Louis County, a Mather AFB student officer. He fell for her, love at first sight, and they were married in Yuba City, and rushed back to St. Louis, where they soon had to part, she back to California, and he to RAF Station Sculthorpe in England’s Norfolk County, where he had just been assigned to duty as navigator/bombardier on the US Air Force’s first jet bomber, the nuclear-deterrent equipped B-45. Four months later, in England, on a particularly wonderful St. Patrick’s Day, they were reunited. Eleanor and Bob enjoyed a three-year honeymoon in England, travelling—when they could—to the warmer places in Europe. Eleanor’s talents blossomed. Her nail polish earned her the nickname ‘Frosty’, which still endures among our Sculthorpe friends. She sang in the Chapel choir, bowled, played duplicate bridge and was deeply involved in both the social and the charitable outreach of the Sculthorpe Officers Club.
They returned from England with their firstborn, Jim, to a small base in Florida, then on to Texas. They made the decision for Bob to pursue his Architectural profession (interrupted by Vietnam), and returned to California, where Bob enrolled in Cal Berkeley’s Bachelor of Architecture program, with help from the GI Bill and the dedicated support of Eleanor’s work at the U.C. Admittance Office. All with time out for sons Kenneth and Eric, with our heartfelt thanks to a few very kind babysitters!
By the time Bob graduated, Wanda, Eleanor’s wonderful, smart mom, had arranged for her son-in-law to be hired by a local Engineering/Architectural firm. Seems she was determined to not let her daughter escape again! She was so right! And son #4, Roger was born in Yuba City. Eleanor and Bob flourished right where they belonged...for 53 of their 63 married years. As their children matured and one by one moved out of that big, beautiful old Dutch Colonial house (sadly destroyed for a shopping center) where Orlin and Esther Harter raised their four boys, Eleanor branched out into the community. With a partner she opened a gift boutique in a historic house in Marysville and called it ‘Eaglehill’. Later, with another partner and friend, she opened a small stenograph/secretarial service, and gave it the name, ‘The Electric Secretary’.
She served her community in so many ways. From her many activities at First Lutheran Church and School where her boys attended grade school, to serving on Sutter County’s Bicentennial Committee, to membership in Sutter County Republican Women, and in Rotary’s ‘Inner Wheel (she chaired both organizations at different times) to a lifetime of local choral work with all her friends in the Y/S Master Chorale, Oratorio Society and the Yuba College Symphony Chorus, finally to singing at the Berkshire Music Festival in the western Massachusetts town of Sheffield, who’s first called minister, Jonathan Hubbard (Eleanor’s 6-great-grandfather), arrived from Yale Divinity School in 1735 when much of the territory was still unexplored. He must have been a bit of an adventurer; because he went there on the promise they would build him a house if he brought the nails. His house and the church they built for him and his congregation still stand in Sheffield—the reason Eleanor and Bob participated in that most enjoyable trip.
As patriotic as her husband (and all her sons have served our nation in various uniforms), Eleanor was appointed by the California Republican Party to represent our state at the 1980 Republican National Convention which nominated Governor Ronald Reagan to be our President. As a result, in the spring after his election, the California Delegation was invited to a reception-celebration the White House. Of course we attended!
Eleanor and Bob’s four sons also flourished here: Jim, in Yuba City, a hereditary firefighter (maternal grandfather and great-grandfather, both Fire Chiefs in So.Cal.), now semi-retired, he remains ‘on call’ usually as P.I.O, with the U.S. Fire Service, together with his Interior-Designer wife, DeAnna and their family—Alex, Cassandra, Nicole & Kristina; Ken, doing control and administration with the excellent Kendall-Jackson Winery in Healdsburg, CA, and his son Rob; Eric, a math teacher at Sutter High School (Eleanor’s alma mater), with his wife Kate, in a beautifully restored historic house in the oldest part of Yuba City with their three sons, Russell, Mark & Jeff; and Roger, in Sacramento, with his wife Karen, daughter Emily and son Peter. Karen is a caring teacher of kids in their early stages of learning, and he is in the State Capitol, working with the Republican Caucus, fighting a daunting battle with the political climate of California.
Heartfelt thanks—and love—to our caring children, relatives, friends and neighbors for all their kindnesses. With family members at her side, a dear only child, Eleanor rejoined her Mom and Dad on the morning of April 15. Mortuary visitation is on Friday, April 28, four until seven pm at Ullrey Chapel in Yuba City. Eleanor’s Memorial Service is on Saturday, April 29, at three pm at First Lutheran, Cooper & Forbes, across from the Library, Yuba City.