Eleanor McLoughlin, who recently celebrated her 100th birthday, died at her Menlo Park home on April 19. By her side were Deacon Dominick Peloso and Monsignor Steven Otellini of Church of the Nativity and her caregiver, Edith.
McLoughlin was a longtime Menlo Park resident and active volunteer in the community who saw many milestones in the Bay Area. Her family recalls she was particularly proud of being one of the first, along with her brother, Cedric, to walk across the newly completed Golden Gate Bridge in 1937 on the day before it opened to vehicles.
In mid-April, McLoughlin's five daughters organized a drive-thru birthday celebration to mark her turning 100 on April 4. The party was held in the back parking lot at the Church of the Nativity in Menlo Park, where McLoughlin had been a parishioner since 1945, and a member of the choir for 53 years. Her family said she loved the church's Children of Mary meetings, which she attended until just last year.
About 50 family members and friends came to celebrate, some driving in from as far as Reno, Nevada.
Flanked by her daughters, McLoughlin, wearing a tiara, was seated beneath a tent in her wheelchair, which had been decorated to look like a throne. Well-wishers in vehicles slowly drove past, leaning out of windows to chat and waving colorful signs with birthday greetings. The Menlo Park Fire Protection District and Menlo Park Police Department each sent several vehicles to participate in the procession, and sounded their sirens to mark the festivities.
"It was so sweet to see her reaction, with all the people driving by. ... It was delightful," said her daughter Joanne Taylor. "I think she was pleased and it was a success."
McLoughlin was born Eleanor Julia Lussier in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on April 4, 1921, to Eva Julia Leveque and Norman Albertus Lussier, who met in France during World War I. She moved to the Bay Area with her family in 1925 following her mother's death. The family first lived in San Leandro and moved several times before settling in San Francisco in the 1930s.
She attended Sacred Heart School in San Francisco and San Francisco College for Women, also known as Lone Mountain College, and which later became part of the University of San Francisco. Her mother had been a nurse during World War I and McLoughlin followed in her footsteps, training in nursing at St. Joseph's Hospital during World War II and graduating in 1945.
After the war, she worked at her father's dental office in San Francisco.
Her daughters remember how proud she was of her registered nurse pin, cape and hat, which she kept all her life.
The same year McLoughlin graduated from nursing school, her family moved to 1 Flood Circle in Atherton's Lindenwood neighborhood, bringing her to the area that she would call home for the rest of her life.
In 1948, she met Menlo Park native Joseph Ross McLoughlin at a square dancing class in Palo Alto and they married in 1949. After the death of his father that same year, Joe McLoughlin took over McLoughlin's Shoe Repair, which he ran for more than 35 years.
After getting married, McLoughlin left nursing and focused on raising a family that would grow to six daughters.
The McLoughlins enjoyed traveling, with a highlight being a trip between New York and London on the supersonic Concorde. They were both longtime Meals on Wheels volunteers and were very active at the Little House Senior Center in Menlo Park.
The couple was married 66 years, until Joe McLoughlin's death in 2015.
McLoughlin was also preceded in death by her daughter, Margaret Sarah, her brother, Cedric Stephen Lussier, and her sons-in-law Russell Moore and David Haughton. She is survived by her daughters Eileen (David) Haughton, Cecelia (John) Dickinson, Julia (Wayne) Usher, Mary El (Russell) Moore, and Joanne (Bill) Taylor; 11 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.
A memorial mass will be held at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, May 6, at the Church of the Nativity, with interment at Holy Cross Cemetery in Menlo Park. Funeral arrangements are under the direction ofJohn D. O'Connor, Menlo Park Funerals.
T he family asks that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Church of the Nativity, Peninsula Volunteers Inc, Macular Degeneration Research, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital or a favorite charity.