Eleanor Loretta Tompke (nee Gorrill) was born on September 4, 1933 in Kincaid, Saskatchewan to Garfield and Nellie Gorrill. She was the second youngest of fourteen children in the blended Gorrill-Foss family.
When she was three years old, her family moved to the Creston Valley and settled in Lister. She loved music and practiced piano diligently while growing up. While attending Creston Valley High School, she accompanied the all-girl school choir during their performances. She also played for country dances, pick-up orchestras, and a band called The Melody Makers.
She married Leroy Tompke in 1953 and they moved to Canyon. They had six children over the years – Sandra, Judy, Kenneth, Vernon, Crystal and Jonathan. The farm and her children claimed much of her time. She taught piano lessons, milked the family cow, helped feed a herd of beef cattle, sold hay and straw, and raised chickens and pigs. Pet dogs and cats always found a welcome at their home. She tended a large garden and spent time cooking, baking bread, and canning fruits and vegetables. She was thrilled when they purchased a freezer and could preserve the bounty from their farm.
She contributed to her community by accompanying the Canyon School choirs and playing piano in several productions in Creston. She was one of the earliest members of the Creston Valley Music Teachers’ Association.
Eleanor loved Jesus and taught Sunday School at the Erickson Covenant Church for many years. She also volunteered for the church library, played for and directed children’s choirs, taught Trailblazers and Sparks for the Awana Program at church. She loved to walk and for many years could be found walking “around the block” in Canyon with her little dog Teddy. She loved nature, capturing beautiful moments with her small Kodak camera.
In her quiet moments, she loved to write and over the years composed hundreds of poems and many beloved stories and songs. She self-published two children’s stories – Far-Away Farm and Loretta’s Story. Many of her poems, stories and songs were recently compiled into a book for her family entitled Canyon Memories.
At age 65 she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s. She moved from her beloved farm in Canyon, where she had lived for 50 years, taking up residence at Crest View Village in 2008 before settling at Swan Valley Lodge until the time of her passing. Despite her Parkinson’s, she still enjoyed playing the piano up until the last month of her life.
Eleanor is survived by her sister Gloria Gorrill and her brother Harold Foss. Her legacy lives on in her six children – Sandra (Don) Ballard, Judy (Calvin) Germann, Kenneth (Janie) Tompke, Vernon (Susan) Tompke, Crystal (Dan) Scholz and Jonathan (Colleen) Tompke. She will also be greatly missed by her twenty-five grandchildren and fifteen great-grandchildren.
The family of Eleanor Tompke would like to thank the staff at Swan Valley Lodge, especially those supporting Mountain View Terrace. Thank you as well to the “Canyon Girls” from both Crest View Village and Swan Valley Lodge who took such tender care of our Mom during the time she spent there. We would also like to thank Dr. Karen Persad and Dr. Atma Persad for their wonderful care of Mom.
Heaven – by Eleanor Tompke
I can scarcely imagine
What my eyes will see,
Flowers of every colour and kind
And birds in scented tree
With brilliant feathers
And wondrous song
That praise my Creator
All day long,
But best of all
Jesus will be
Close by my side
BC Parkinson Society of British Columbia
600 - 890 West Pender Street, Vancouver BC V6C 1J9