Eleanor Pennebaker, née Eleanor Frances Gokey, beloved wife, mother, sister, aunt, and daughter, passed away on Friday, December 11, 2020, in Roxboro, NC with her family at her side.
She was born in Dearborn, MI on February 11, 1937 to the late Mary Evelyn "Mayme" Gokey and Stanley Ward "Barney" Gokey. After Mayme's death in 1945, Eleanor's father remarried Theresa Adelaide Gokey.
She was a wife of 55 years to Donald Edward Pennebaker, who passed on April 4, 2016.
To know Eleanor was to love her. If you met her even once, you know she'd make you feel like the center of the universe with the kindness and sincerity she exuded. As a mother to five kids, she managed the inevitable chaos with grace and affection. As the wife of a man who was comically stubborn, she was the one who could crack his tough exterior and bring out a much softer side.
If you ask any of one of her grandkids, they'll have countless stories of the times she let them wreak havoc around town. At grandma's house, you got to run through the sprinkler naked, eat Cool Whip straight out of the container, roll down the windows at the car wash, and even cut grandma's hair...with real scissors. But you were also taught to be kind and compassionate above all.
Eleanor is survived by her sister, Patricia G. Pennebaker of N. Little Rock, AR, her son, David M. Pennebaker of Roxboro, two daughters, Ursula P. Long & husband, Daniel of Roxboro, Amy P. Cannady & husband, Stephen of Roxboro, son-in-law, Philip R. Vilaro of Roxboro, honorary daughter, Mei Mei Clarke of Denver, CO, eight grandchildren, Shannon P. Smith & husband Jonathan, Daniel R. Long III & fiancé Tiffany, Claire S. Long, Anna C. Long, Isabel E. Long, Matthew S. Vilaro, Brian M. Vilaro, Maria F. Pennebaker, and six great grandchildren, Landon M. Smith, Jacob A. Smith, Connor R. Smith, Mason A. Smith, Eric J. Smith, and Eleanor M. Smith.
In addition to her parents and husband, Mrs. Pennebaker is preceded in death by a son, Eric John Pennebaker, a daughter, Teresa Pennebaker Vilaro, and her siblings, Marguerite Gokey Hough, Gilbert Gokey, and Stanley Gokey.
Funeral mass will be conducted at 12:00 p.m. Tuesday, December 15, 2020, by Father William Rodriguez at Saints Mary & Edward Catholic Church. Unfortunately the service will be limited to immediate family due to COVID restrictions. However, we are pleased to welcome friends from 6:30-8:00 p.m. on Monday, December 14, 2020 at Strickland and Jones Funeral Home.
Arrangements are by Strickland and Jones Memorial Funeral Services, 1810 Durham Road, Roxboro, NC 27573. Online condolences may be made at stricklandandjonesfs.com.
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