In an era when a woman’s place was very different from what it is today, she was a pioneer.”
So observed Bill Longbrake, whose aunt, Eleanor S. Longbrake, broke new ground in many quiet ways throughout her 97 years.
Born in 1913, Eleanor had a keen interest in nature and science from a very early age. She was an exceptional student, and earned scientific degrees from the College of Wooster and The Ohio State University at a time when fewer than ten percent of Americans graduated from college.
Eleanor began teaching science at Toledo’s Scott High School in 1939. But just three years later, after the U.S. entered World War II, she joined the war effort by enlisting in the WAVES. As a naval officer, Eleanor became one of the 6000 weather forecasters trained for the war effort — only 150 of whom were women.
When Eleanor returned to the classroom, she became Scott’s first College Advisor, helping hundreds of Scott students pursue higher education years before area schools had guidance counselors. In 1960, Eleanor left Scott to supervise science programs throughout the Toledo Public Schools for the next 17 years. She remained active in retirement, teaching Sunday school and volunteering.
With her Toledo Community Foundation legacy fund, Eleanor’s dedication to area youth and their education continues. In the years since her passing in 2010, the Eleanor Longbrake Fund has supported summer science and college readiness programs, her two great passions as a teacher more than 60 years ago.
“Aunt Eleanor was very generous, and had a deep sense of duty,” said Bill of his aunt’s philanthropy, “as well as a love for science and education. She’d take me on ‘field trips’ to explore nature when I was a kid, and helped pay for my college education. Even when she wasn’t in the classroom, she was always teaching.”