Eleanor Mary Begnoche was born on April 20, 1924, in North Adams, Massachusetts to Joseph and Concettina Battista. An inquisitive child and voracious reader (who was also known to have roller-skated around the inside of her father’s barbershop), Eleanor knew from an early age that she wanted to be a teacher. After attending Drury High School, she completed a BS in Education at North Adams State College, a MS in Education at Boston University, as well as a MA in Italian and DML studies at Middlebury College. She taught English and Italian at the middle and high school levels for over thirty years.
A friend introduced her to an electrical engineer named Donald Begnoche, the love of her life, and the two were married in 1961, living first in North Adams, and later moving to Mystic, Connecticut. They had two sons, Steven, and David, whom they continually encouraged in their studies and eventual musical careers. As a couple, Eleanor and Don were actively involved in their home parish, St. Michael’s, where they were dedicated to the RCIA program.
Eleanor was very proud of her Italian heritage; in addition to her professional teaching, she volunteers taught Italian at her parish’s elementary school for many years, and she received the Person of the Year Award from the Dante Society of Westerly in 1996.
Eleanor was famous among her circle not only for her cooking, needlework, and memory for birthdays, but for the generous spirit that led her to cook meals for friends and those in need, to crochet blankets for every new baby or to send care packages as the Spirit moved her. She was a dedicated writer of letters and cards to those who might need a lift in their spirits. A practical person and advance planner, she always had a well-stocked pantry, and was an expert shopper who always had an eye open for things her friends and family might find useful. She could wrap a care package or gift with singular style. She loved animals, musicals, and laughter.
After her beloved Don’s death in 1994, she remained in Pawcatuck until relocating to Denton, Texas in 2006 to be near her sons.
Eleanor passed to the next life peacefully in her sleep on Sunday June 13, 2021, having recently celebrated her 97th birthday. She is survived by her sons Steve and Dave, her grandson Matteo and daughter-in-law Elvia. A memorial service will take place in the fall at Saint Michael’s Catholic Church in Pawcatuck on Saturday October 23.
Eleanor leaves a legacy of generosity, thoughtfulness, and kindness. Her generous consideration of the needs of others was as much a hallmark of her life as were her intelligence and love for her family. She reminds us of all to treasure each relationship and each moment.
In lieu of flowers, tributes may be made to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
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