Eleanor Marie Barnes (Dec 31, 1913 - Nov 21. 2015)
Thursday, December 10, 2015 10:51 AM
Sweet and charming to her very last day, Eleanor Marie Barnes - our beloved, graceful dancer - passed away peacefully in her sleep on the morning of November 24, 2015 at the age of 101. A longtime resident of Seattle’s Magnolia neighborhood, she was born in Chicago on December 31st, 1913 and moved around the Midwest with her family before settling permanently in Seattle at the age of 9. Always a Magnolia resident, she lived on Perkins Lane originally, and later moved to a small house on the beach of what is now Smith Cove, before eventually moving to a home near the top of Dravus Street.
Dancing was her passion from an early age. She often related one of her earliest memories: Highland dancing on the Jefferson, Missouri state capitol steps during a celebration at age five. In Seattle, she attended Lawton School, Broadway High School on Capitol Hill and graduated from Queen Anne High, all while flourishing as a dancer. She continued her training at Seattle’s highly regarded Cornish College of the Arts before setting out on her own as an instructor. She taught classes under the name Marie Miller in Bremerton and eventually established her own dance studio - first on Queen Anne and later in Ballard.
A Modern Woman, she ran her own dance studio business and directed lavish annual productions featuring her students at the Moore Theater in downtown Seattle. Devoted former students kept contact with her for decades following her retirement in the mid-1960s.
With her husband, Jim Barnes, she had two children: Jack in 1938 and Diana in 1947. Following the death of her husband in 1965 and her retirement from dance instruction soon thereafter, she embarked on a second career of running a daycare from her home and babysitting neighborhood children. During this time, she also was a fixture in the nursery at Magnolia Presbyterian Church for decades, and became well known by generations of neighborhood children as the Cookie Lady. Unwaveringly optimistic and nurturing, lavish in her care and attention, and generous with treats, Marie was a magnet for children and animals.
While in her 70s, Marie took over the final years of care for her own ailing mother in her own home. Marie then turned her attention to the maintenance of her house and property on Magnolia and to the loving care of her pets – probably the luckiest animals to have ever existed. As she entered her 80s and began slowing down just a bit, her grandson and his family then moved in to help keep her safe and sound in her own home. Despite a couple of minor health scares, Marie remained active well into her 90s, and she continued to give away tiny jars of jam and homemade cookies to employees in the Village when taken shopping for groceries!
At almost 101, as it became obvious that her needs were greater than what her grandchildren could provide for, she moved into the Heath Center at Bayview Manor on Queen Anne Hill. There, for one glorious year, she became the life of the party – gracefully demonstrating her dance moves with her hands and participating in every activity she could attend. Even though at this point she could no longer walk, she still managed to tool around effectively in her wheelchair. Here, she could share her sweet, charming personality with a new set of people who quickly became devoted to her.
This is why, even as she approached her 102nd birthday, her loss came as such a devastating surprise. She is survived by her son Jack Barnes, (Shirley), their daughter Kimberly Kerr (Randy Kerr) and their son Alex. She is also survived by her daughter Diana Noe (Lynn Gleason), Diana’s son Keith Peterson ( Donna Luke-Peterson), and their daughters Katy and Lauren. Marie radiated positivity, practically glowed with optimism and had the ability to uplift and energize the people around her. We deeply miss her but are grateful to have had the good luck and fortune to have had her in our lives. It is often said that children and animals can tell who is a good person, and they flocked to Marie. Donations in her memory may be made to a charity of your choice benefitting children and animals. A tribute page to her memory has been established at www.Washelli.com. A memorial service will be held at Magnolia Presbyterian Church on Saturday, December 12th at 1pm to celebrate the life of this wonderful woman.