We Remember

GORGES, Eleanore Kathleen

August 3, 1928 — August 8, 2023

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our Mother, the Matriarch of the Gorges family.   Eleanore Kathleen Gorges, wife, mother, aunt, grandmother, great-grandmother, and friend, died on Tuesday, August 8, 2023, at 7:45 am at the  Central Okanagan Hospice House.  She was attended by 7 of her 9 children and a number of their partners, Liz Smith, Sue (Robert), Pat (Susan), Frank (Corinne), James (Gina), John (Diane), and Jerome (Jaqueline) Gorges, with youngest Will, in transit from his home in Chicago.   Her beloved husband of 59 years, William (Bill) Gorges predeceased her in 2011, as did her first son, Craig Gorges who died in February 2020. She left us secure in the promise of a heavenly reunion with both. Eleanore is survived by 26 grandchildren, 22 great-grandchildren as well as nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends beyond counting!

Eleanore lives forever in our hearts, lovingly remembered and greatly missed.  We celebrate her full life, broad experience, deep compassion, boundless energy, and constant love.

Born Eleanore Kathleen Missler on August 3, 1928, in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Eleanore was the second youngest in a family of 7 and was the last survivor of her immediate family.

Raised amidst the Great Depression, which shaped her mind and body for the long life ahead, her immortal spirit was ever-prepared for the challenges, joys, tribulations, and celebrations to come.

Eleanore was no average girl: she was bright, pretty, confident, athletic, enthusiastic, and extremely personable. As a teenager, she excelled at her studies and flourished among her friends and family, but it was in athletics that her searing competitive nature found its outlet: Eleanore was an avid, fearless competitor.   Softball,  running, track and field were among the many sports she loved. Track and field was her favorite and in the high jump, she showed talent and potential, holding the varsity record for many years at Isaac Newton High School in Winnipeg.

In June of 1941, 12-year-old Eleanore witnessed an event that would forever change her life. Arriving home from school, she met paramedics carrying the lifeless body of her mother. Mrs. Elizabeth Missler, only 44 years of age, suffered a massive heart attack while cleaning house and died. Mr. Joseph Missler was left with 7 children to raise, aged 11 to 18 years old.

Eleanore’s childhood effectively ended as she, along with her siblings and father, took on the responsibilities of her mother. Eleanore’s oldest sister Adelaide became the head of the household acting as mother, cook, maid and seamstress for her father and siblings. All her life, Eleanore credited her elder sister Adelaide for keeping it all together.  As an inspiration and model, Adelaide became Eleanore’s mother-surrogate and dearest friend, a relationship they maintained till Adelaide’s death in 2008.

The years following her mother’s death, Eleanore learned to balance family duties with a robust, well-rounded social life. She pursued athletics, as time allowed, while enjoying cards and other social activities in the community.

In the early 1950s, Eleanore was engaged to be married, but not to Bill, who decided he had to have her for his own wife.  Eleanore, equally smitten, called off the wedding and began dating Bill Gorges.  Within a few months of meeting, the couple married in October of 1952 and in the following year, they welcomed their first child Elizabeth. They continued to welcome  8 more children over the next 13 years.

Though without a moment to spare, Eleanore managed the responsibilities of wife, mother, and career brilliantly. The couple soon moved from Winnipeg (with 6 children in tow) to Atikokan, Ontario, a small mining town, where they were to operate and manage a Texaco service station owned by Bill’s brother-in-law and sister, Guido and Anne Prior. This partnership began a long, prosperous pattern for Bill and Eleanore of managing the Prior’s businesses du jour, ranging from restaurants to supermarkets. Mom and Dad would follow Guido and Anne to the next business opportunity he pursued—and always, it seemed, to another adventure! Ultimately, Prior business brought them to the Okanagan Valley in 1966, where they settled in  Kelowna. In Kelowna, they managed the celebrated Baron restaurant on Water Street.

By that time there were nine children, the youngest only 2 and the eldest 15. Eleanore worked at the restaurant as a waitress and at whatever else needed doing.  She was famous for her work ethic, telling co-workers, family, and staff, “When it’s time to lean it’s time to clean.” Eleanore was no slacker; far from it, she was raising a platoon!

Bill and Eleanore always made time for their social lives (which involved church, family, athletics, and travel) as well. Eleanore was a sought-after sporting partner and Bill was glad to be on the winning side with Eleanore. They belonged to almost every club you can imagine: the curling club, the bowling club, the Bridge club, among others!

There was one activity that Eleanore did on her own, long before it was trendy or popular. Eleanore began studying yoga in the late 1950s and maintained her practice well into her 70s.  She loved to demonstrate her flexibility and agility. The broomstick trick was perhaps her most famous. She made it look effortless! Although Dad didn’t approve of this activity, she was defiant and continued with yoga.   She understood how it made her stronger mentally and physically, despite her husband’s preferences.

After Bill passed, Eleanore lived out the rest of her life at the Northwoods Retirement Resort on Gordon Drive where you could always find her holding court and entertaining the endless flow of family and friends visiting her until the very end! Eleanore loved the Northwoods setting and staff she was happy, safe, and content.

Eleanore and Bill’s legacy continues to flourish! At last count there were more than 60 in their line, with Eleanore connecting everyone and holding them in orbit. Tough but forgiving, generous but exacting, inspired and inspiring, she was a beautiful, loving, soul, a mother to many, and a friend to more.  Those who had the privilege to know her were lucky.

The Gorges family wishes to extend their sincere gratitude for all the love and support you have given our mother over the years and in lieu of any flowers or gifts we ask that you make a donation in Eleanore’s name to a charity of your choice, we also want to especially thank the Northwoods Retirement Resort and amazing staff for the wonderful years you gave our mother Eleanore! As well thank you Hospice House and KGH for your tender, loving care.

Rest in Peace Eleanor Kathleen Gorges.

We invite you to come and celebrate Eleanore’s extraordinary life.  A Funeral Mass will take place Tuesday, August 15, 2023, at 11:00 am, at Immaculate Conception Church, 839 Sutherland Avenue, Kelowna, BC.  Refreshments to follow at the hall next to the church.

Tuesday, August 15, 2023 at 11:00 AM

Immaculate Conception Church, 839 Sutherland Avenue, Kelowna, BC

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