After three lonely years without her husband of 62 years, Eleanor has joined her beloved “Eddie.”
Eleanor and Edmund were strongly bonded to each other; it was almost impossible to think of one without immediately thinking of the other. Ed, the extrovert, could easily overshadow the more-reserved Eleanor, whose virtues were of a more subtle nature.
Who was Eleanor?
Eleanor Kuhner was born in 1935 in Red Bank, New Jersey. Like her late husband, she was the child of poor, uneducated German immigrants and grew up in New York City during the Great Depression.
Enticed by the freedom and the opportunities offered by this great country, Eleanor’s parents, Martin and Kreszentia, had come to the United States to build a new life. They worked as butler/chauffeur and housekeeper/cook for a very wealthy family in Manhattan. As domestics, they lived in the servants’ quarters and had to enter and leave through the servants’ door. This left a lasting mark on little Eleanor and may be the reason she devoted herself so diligently to her studies.
In part because of her parents’ broken English, Eleanor took great pains to speak, write, and pronounce the language properly. She loved both prose and poetry and could quote Goethe, Schiller, and Shakespeare (to name a few) at length.
Eleanor loved music, too. She played piano and guitar and had a lovely singing voice. As a girl, she could only afford the cheapest tickets to the Metropolitan Opera. Enraptured by the music, she gratefully stood through multi-hour Wagnerian operas.
She graduated from high school one year early and completed her undergraduate work at Hunter College in three years, graduating magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa with a BA in German literature. From there, she went on to spend a year in Munich as a Fulbright Scholar and completed her MA in elementary education at Columbia University upon her return to the States.
In 1958, Eleanor married the love of her life, Edmund Scherer. The wedding was followed by a memorable Caribbean honeymoon. The family was completed by the arrival of Julia in 1958 and Ed in 1962. She taught elementary school in Harlem for several years before electing to devote herself to being a full-time wife and mother, something at which she excelled. The family moved to Kansas in 1964. Life was filled with laughter, learning, travel, and love (and lively debate around the dinner table).
Throughout her life, Eleanor maintained a keen interest in intellectual pursuits. She read voraciously and studied Spanish, French, and Italian. Through her language groups, she met many interesting and delightful people. The couple’s social circle was greatly enlarged by people that Eleanor befriended in her classes. She and Ed hosted memorable gatherings at their home, where food was plentiful (Eleanor was a superb cook), beverages flowed freely, and lifelong friendships were nurtured.
When Ed retired in 1986, he and Eleanor became world travelers, with destinations that included Australia, the Czech Republic, China, Costa Rica, Egypt, France, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Mexico, New Zealand, Spain, Switzerland, and Tibet. These trips inspired several of her paintings that adorned the walls of the family home.
Modest, polite, and unpretentious, Eleanor never sought to impress others. People were struck by her thoughtfulness, sensitivity, generosity, and natural elegance.
She was also tough as nails. Eleanor’s last months were very difficult. With stoic resolve, she battled the ravages of a stroke and multiple other health challenges. When there was nothing more to be done, she was relieved to be free of the endless medical procedures and settled into end-of-life routines with grace and gratitude.
The family would like to express its heartfelt appreciation to the excellent personnel at Saint Luke’s Plaza, Saint Luke’s South, Olathe Medical Center, Kansas City Hospice, and Lakeview Village Care Center for providing superb medical care as well as comfort, compassion, and support.
Before her stroke, Eleanor had resided at Silvercrest at Deer Creek, where she and Ed had lived prior to his passing. Our deepest thanks to the Silvercrest staff as well. It is a wonderful place and Eleanor was very happy there. Had it not been for the staff’s keen observation and quick action, she likely would not have survived the stroke.
Finally, the family would like to thank Country Club Christian Church for the many decades of spiritual sustenance provided to Ed and Eleanor.
Like Ed before her, Eleanor spent her last days bathed in the loving embrace of family, who returned to her the same devotion that she had shown them all their lives. She passed peacefully, surrounded by photos of her wonderful life and the music of Brahms.
We picture Ed and Eleanor looking down with satisfaction at the beautiful family they created—a family that honors their memory by carrying forward the love, wisdom, and joy they so generously bestowed on us. Words cannot express the depth of our gratitude.
Eleanor leaves behind her children Julia Scherer and Ed Scherer (Helen), grandsons Jason Frailey (Adrienne) and Derek Scherer (Kristin), and great-grandchildren Keira Frailey and Victor, Walter, and Lyra Scherer.