Obituary for Eleanor Rainey Thompson
(Alice) Eleanor Rainey Thompson
May 22, 1935 – November 4, 2017
Alice Eleanor Rainey Thompson died on November 4, 2017, in Salem, Oregon. Eleanor was born to Ellis C. Rainey and Alice Barrows Rainey on May 22, 1935, in Lebanon, Missouri. Her father was a longtime principal of Lebanon High School and her mother was a high school English teacher and homemaker.
Eleanor was a gifted pianist and vocalist and attended Drury College, majoring in music performance and planning a career in music education until she met John Schuyler “Sky” Thompson in band class during her freshman year, the beginning of a lifelong romance in which music would always play a large part.
Eleanor and Sky married in 1956 and moved to Texas, then Louisiana, where their children, Janet and John, were born. During the next thirty years, Sky’s work in the oil business took them to Australia, England (three times), Colombia (twice), Abu Dhabi, Norway, and Indonesia. Wherever they were, Eleanor created a comfortable and attractive home and always found ways to share her musical talents, whether as a vocal soloist, leading lady, choir director, or walk-on church organist. Upon Sky’s retirement, they moved from Denver to Salem to live near their first grandchildren and explore the West.
Eleanor loved performing and could easily light up a room or stage with her talent, humor, and beauty. She would burst into song at the drop of a hat. She was probably happiest, however, sitting quietly in Nature waiting for birds or other animals to appear, or relaxing in the company of her husband, their children, and their families. Her grandchildren adored her as a lively, tender, and always-interested grandmother. For the last seventeen years of her life, Eleanor nourished her soul at the “River House,” a modest cabin on the North Santiam River. She enjoyed happy times there with Sky, their family, a colorful collection of dolls and gnomes, many wild creatures, and guests who happily devoured Chinese take-out, delicious ham dinners, marionberry pie, and her trademark cream cheese brownies.
Eleanor loved her Southwestern Missouri roots and enjoyed integrating her Ozark heritage with her cosmopolitan life experience. She brought joy, intelligence, and curiosity to everything she did, and Eleanor’s lifelong friends and entire extended family, including in-laws, nieces, nephews, and cousins, will remember her bright spirit and miss her.
Eleanor is survived by her best friend and husband of 61 years, John Schuyler Thompson; children Janet (Scott) Bassett and John (Michele Martinez) Thompson, all of Salem; grandchildren Keith Bassett (Caitlin Hutchison), Steven (Celia) Bassett, Francesca Thompson, and Diego Thompson; and sisters Margaret (Dave) Whitlock, of Monett, MO, Janet (Dennis) Dierker, of Columbia, MO, and Pat Hansen, of Appleton, WI. Her parents and her brother, Ellis C. “Bud” Rainey Jr., preceded her in death.
No services will be held per Eleanor’s request. The family thanks all who helped Eleanor during her illness. Memorial contributions may be made to Union Gospel Mission of Salem or Willamette Valley Hospice.