Eleanor Louise Winn was born at her grandmother’s house in Milton, Ore., on June 9, 1926, to Oscar and Jessie Wells Winn. Her great-grandparents arrived in the Walla Walla Valley by covered wagon in 1864, and she was a proud member of the Daughters of the Pioneers. Eleanor passed away after a brief illness on July 4, 2013.
Eleanor grew up on Baskett Mountain, attended Grove School and went on to graduate from McLoughlin High School in 1944. She also attended Oregon State College until money for tuition became an issue.
As a 16 year old in the summer of 1942, she met a handsome guy working for her dad during wheat harvest. Otto Blumhagen stole her heart from the very first day. Unfortunately, he was drafted, so just three or four weeks after they met, he left for basic training. They did not see each other again until he returned from Europe in January of 1946. They were married in October of that year.
Eleanor spent most of her employment years as a secretary for the Milton-Freewater School District, working first at Freewater School, then Central School and finally, at Grove School, which she attended as a child. Now, that’s coming full circle! Her retirement was celebrated in 1987, after 30 years of service to the district and thousands of children.
Growing flowers was one of Eleanor’s favorite hobbies and she was a member of the Milton-Freewater Garden Club for many years. She was also a member of the Milton-Freewater Art Club and the Elks. Eleanor loved to travel with her family. Mention the word “cruise” and she was ready to pack her bags!
Eleanor spent 81 of her 87 years living in Milton-Freewater. The last six years were spent living at Park Plaza Retirement Center in Walla Walla, where she created a large flower garden just outside her apartment door. And even though she moved across the state line, she was still living in her beloved Walla Walla Valley.
Eleanor was preceded in death by her parents, Oscar and Jessie Winn; her brothers, Merle and Veryl Winn; and by her husband of 65 years, Otto Blumhagen. She is survived by her three children, Sandy Bartnik (Wayne), Rocky Blumhagen (Richard Royse) and Larry Blumhagen (Dave Numme); two grandchildren, Heather Bartnik Parson (Damon) and Paul Bartnik; one great-grandchild, Eloise Parson; and several nieces and nephews.
A Celebration of Life will be held on July 19, 2013, at Munselle-Rhodes Funeral Home in Milton-Freewater at 2 p.m. All are invited to a gathering at the Frazier Farmstead Museum in Milton-Freewater immediately following the service.
Eleanor and Otto were generous contributors to many causes in the Walla Walla Valley and Portland. They had a special interest in the Frazier Farmstead Museum, volunteering many hours there during their active retirement years. They believed in preserving the history of the Walla Walla Valley and would welcome your contribution to the museum or a charity of your choice.