Eloise Sturkey

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Eloise Catherine (Suenkel) Tanis Sturkey passed Aug. 23, 2019 in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

Eloise was born May 16, 1917 to August B. Suenkel and Marguerite Francis Wahl, in Valley Park. Her parents were both school teachers. Marguerite died when Eloise was an infant. Later, her father married Ida S. Witte of rural Drake. Ida became the most wonderful step-mother to Eloise and, later, grandmother and great-grandmother to Eloise’s family. 

Eloise graduated from Hermann High School in 1935 and Southeast Missouri State University in 1941. Early in her career she taught in a one-room schoolhouse and, later, drama and speech at Jennings High School in St. Louis. While teaching in St. Louis, she met her future husband, Paul Tanis, who was stationed at Jefferson Barracks. 

In 1943, Eloise married Paul Tanis at St. Paul’s E&R Church in Hermann. After the war, they made their home in Palos Heights, Ill., a suburb of Chicago, where they had four children: Constance Bixby, Margaret Wahl (deceased), Steven Suenkel and Marcia Scott. They lived in Chicago from 1945 to 1976. When Paul Tanis retired, they moved to Florida, where he died in 1981. Alone for four years, she then met Ralph Sturkey and they were married until his death in 2012. They lived in North Carolina and Hermann for much of their life together. After Ralph’s passing, she moved to Jupiter, Fla., to be near her son and his wife and family.

Eloise served as president and vice-president of the Mt. Dora, Florida Women’s Club, vice-president and program director of the Palos Heights Illinois Women’s Club. She served on numerous library boards, was active in politics, was a poll watcher in several elections and served a term as president of the Cook County Republican Women’s Club. She had the honor of attending a luncheon at the White House during President Ronald Reagan’s term. 

Eloise enjoyed performing in community theatre productions, including the Palos Players, Ill. Eloise became very interested in history and spent considerable time studying and researching the presidents and their wives. In retirement, She presented several programs on “Wives of the U.S. Presidents”. Some of the locations included: Pine Meadows Country Club, Eustis, Fla.; Rotary Club, Salisbury, N.C.; and St. Paul’s United Church of Christ, Gerald.

Wherever she went, she always made sure there were bridge games. She loved entertaining and held lunches, dinners and teas whenever possible. While her husband, Paul was alive, she entertained for his management team, as well as hosting numerous picnics for his extended family. She never met a stranger and leaves behind friends across the country.

In addition to her children, she is survived by grandchildren, Ida Purkey, Sarah Lunn, Carl Jackson, Eric Tanis and Paul J. Tanis; great-grandchildren, Ron Hunt, Margaret S. Purkey, Ella Ann Tanis and Addison Mae Tanis; cousins: Arvel and Carol Witte, Phyllis Witte, Verna Hilkerbaumer, Barbara Werges and Carol Mills; cherished in-laws, nephews and nieces, Andrew Finn, Gail Tanis, Wayne and Lynn Mullen, Karen Mullen Kline, Mark and Christine Tanis, Joan Tanis, Ronald and Joan Tanis, Donald and Teresa Tanis, Cheryl Tanis, Dawn and Glen Freiboth, Ted Tanis, Dean Tanis, Terrance Tanis, Todd Tanis, Bruce Greenland, Lyn and Wayne Seymour, Ben and Anita Greenland, Chip and Mirtha Chandler and many others.

Visitation will be held Saturday, Sept. 7, from 9-11 a.m. at St. Paul United Church of Christ, Hermann, where the funeral service will follow at 11 a.m. A luncheon will immediately follow the funeral service. Interment will be held at 2 p.m. at Owensville Cemetery. In lieu of flowers memorial donations may be given to Scenic Regional Library Foundation-Hermann Branch or Every Child’s Hope (ECH). 

Arrangements entrusted to Toedtmann & Grosse Funeral Home, Hermann.

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