Eleanore Vera Tomsovic, 89, passed away peacefully on December 17th. She was born October 9th 1923 in Berwyn, Illinois, a Czech suburb of Chicago, the youngest daughter of Edward and Vera Pliml, two first generation Czech immigrants. Eleanore’s formative years were spent during the great depression and although times in the Chicago area were tough, her father, a tool and die maker, was able to stay employed. “We didn’t have a whole lot during those days, but we never went hungry.” During her teen years, Eleanore was a gymnast. It was at a Czech gymnasium that a handsome young gymnast caught her eye. His name was Milan Tomsovic and she became determined then and there to become his wife. Milan served as a navy pilot in the Pacific Theater during WWII, and after his return, they were married. Milan went to college at The University of Colorado at Boulder where he and Eleanore fell in love with the west. After receiving his PhD in Psychology from the University of Illinois in 1954, he accepted a position at the Sheridan VA hospital where he would work until his death in 1978. During this time Eleanore worked as a teacher’s aide at the old Central Junior High School and developed many long lasting friendships there. Eleanore often reflected on the many years they lived at the VA and the wonderful times the family had there. She was proud that her son Scott works and lives there today.
One of Eleanore’s greatest joys was her involvement in Community Theater. She helped found the Sheridan Civic Theatre Guild in 1957 and later served on its Board of Directors. She worked on many CTG productions in positions from stage hand to Director, but will always be remembered best for her numerous character roles with which she would always steal the show. She used her diminutive frame, gymnastic agility, quick wit and expressive face to always leave the audience rolling in the aisles.
One of the highlights in Eleanore’s involvement in community theatre was as a member of the Femme Finales, the women’s cabaret group organized by the late Sophie Pelissier in 1985 to raise awareness and funds to save the WYO Theatre from destruction and turn it into Sheridan’s Performing Arts center. She was the Femmes “Funny Lady”. Sophie knew that audiences loved to laugh, and many of her routines centered on using Eleanore as an “exhausted exerciser”, a “tired stripper” or a “cavorting cavewoman.” She was a delightful dancer, and could dance circles around those half her age. Eleanore had an uncanny sense of comedic timing which contributed greatly to the popularity of the Femmes throughout the years.
Another great joy for Eleanore was her Granddaughter Raesha. Finally the girl she always wanted. They spent many hours together doing “girl” things. “Grandma” provided a great deal of gentle loving support and guidance in her granddaughter’s life.
Eleanore was preceded in death by her parents, husband Milan, and her sister Helen Bennin. She is survived by her sons Bruce (Patricia) Tomsovic, Scott (Peggy) Tomsovic, granddaughter Raesha (Adam) Smith of Maple Shade, NJ, nephew Bill (Chris) Bennin of Lombard, Illinois, niece Barbara (Ken) Hill of Arizona, sister-in-law June Tomsovic of Jackson, Michigan, and nephews Steven (Susan Ross) Tomsovic, Kevin (Chien Fei Chen) Tomsovic and niece Sharon (Keith) Putnam.
At Eleanore’s request, no memorial service will be held. Instead she would hope that friends would raise a glass and belt out an old Barbara Streisand song, or better yet, go see a live performance at the WYO Theatre or the Carriage House. Memorials in Eleanore’s honor may be sent to the WYO Theatre, 42 North Main, or the Senior Center, 211Smith Street.
Online condolences may be written at www.kanefuneral.com.
Kane Funeral Home has been entrusted with arrangements.