Eleanor May Heldstab Lillie was born March 26, 1929, to Reinhard and Ada Godfrey Heldstab in Mccloud, California, she was the eldest of four children. Eleanor grew up in various sawmill towns in Northern California. She graduated from Downeyville High School at the age of 16 and was accepted to the University of California, Berkeley. While taking classes and working two to three jobs she became sick and went home to Corning, where she met John Allen Lillie and swept him off his feet with her charm. They were married three weeks later.
Eleanor and Allen moved to Tuolumne County in 1954, for Allen to work at Pickering Lumber Company. Eleanor continued working part-time jobs until the children were older. One of her first jobs was at the OK Candy Shop. Then she worked at the Uptown Theater, the Lower Theater and Dr. Jorgenson's Dentistry.
In the early 70s she went back to college and received her Bachelor of Science in Liberal Studies and earned an Elementary and a Single Subject Teaching Credential from California State University Stanislaus (CSUS). She later received her master's degree from the University California, San Francisco.
Eleanor loved teaching. She taught at Columbia Elementary, where she was active in yearbook, cheerleading, drama and many other activities. When she was at Pinecrest School, not only did she teach, she was the administrator. She was devoted to her students and touched many of their lives.
During her retirement years she belonged to Emblem Club and the Elks, Retired Teachers Association, Sierra Foothill Women's Club and the Church of the 49er's in Columbia. She enjoyed going to the Senior Center for exercise classes, lunch and made many friends.
On Jan. 17, 2018, Eleanor passed away at the age of 88. She was preceded in death by her parents; her husband; and brother, Rhinehardt (Shorty).
Eleanor is survived by her sister, Betty Griffith, of Georgia; brother and his wife, Marlin and Erline Heldstab, of Tuolumne; her children and their spouses, John Lillie (Claire), of Carmichael, Jim Lillie (Mary), of Sonora, Michelle Siemens (Mike), of Salida; six grandchildren; 11 great-grandchildren; many nieces and nephews.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations made to their favorite charity.
Services will be held at 1 p.m. Jan. 30 at the Church of the 49er's in Columbia. Fellowship will follow in Faith Hall.
Interment will be private at Mount Shadow Cemetery.