“You should write a book about your life!”
People would often say that to Eleanor, but the truth was, she lived the life. A rich full life.
Eleanor Velarde was born in Los Angeles, California on Sept. 4th, 1937 and passed away peacefully in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory on March 25th, 2020.
The daughter of Mia Engelman and renowned scientist Wolfgang Klemperer, she grew up in Santa Monica where her lifelong love of playing tennis began. (Rafael Nadal just lost his biggest fan).
She went on to become a theatre major at UCLA and from there, started working in the entertainment industry as a TV producer on live sporting events, game shows and various other projects. Through this work she met her first husband, John, and they produced and directed many projects together, one of the highlights being the commercials for John F. Kennedy’s presidential campaign. They had one son together, her beloved Greg.
Eleanor’s political activism began long before the Kennedy campaign and continued throughout her life.
Her love of nature and adventure led her to become a rancher, a glider pilot and a whitewater rafting enthusiast who led expeditions down the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon. Always exploring new frontiers, Eleanor became a teacher and moved to Arizona to live on the Navajo Reservation. There, she created the first TV station on the reservation, started with equipment donated by her contacts at Sony and ABC in Hollywood and fully operated by her Navajo students from the high school where she taught. That TV station still exists today, over 30 years later.
She travelled to many different places around the world but fell in in love with the Yukon on a visit in 1980 and finally moved to Whitehorse in 1991 and never left. She was a frontier woman through and through and the Yukon was the perfect place for her.
While in the Yukon she was (among many other things), a volunteer counselor at the Yukon Correctional Centre, a leader of several healing circles, a volunteer at the food bank, a co-owner and manager of Takhini Hot Springs and also became heavily involved with the First Nations community.
Throughout her life she was always a willing student, teacher, counselor, and healer. To anyone that knew her, her spirit was generous, kind and wise. She was a friend to everyone and everyone she encountered became family. She believed there was always enough love to go around. Most importantly, she was an amazing mother.
She is survived by her son Greg, her daughter-in-law, Joan and her brother Walt. She will be greatly missed.
In lieu of flowers or donations, Eleanor requests that you do something kind for someone else.