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Eleanor Herbert

Obituary for Eleanor Herbert

August 28, 2019
Lower Gwynedd, Pennsylvania


Eleanor M. Herbert of Lower Gwynedd, passed away peacefully on Wednesday August 28, 2019. She was 90 years old. Born September 2, 1928 in Philadelphia, she was the daughter of the late John Francis and Florence Katherine (nee Agostini) Gilles.

Eleanor was born in the Olney section of Philadelphia and attended Incarnation of Our Lord School. She then attended Little Flower High School for Girls where she graduated with honors. After high school, she trained to be a hematology laboratory technician at Misericordia Hospital in West Philadelphia. Upon completing her training there, she went on to work at Jefferson (University now) Hospital where she worked with research physicians on childhood leukemia.

After marrying Francis J. Herbert (Colonel, USPARNG, ret) on October 8, 1948, she spent two years living in living in Schwabach (near Nürnberg), Bavaria, Germany while he served in the US Army. On their return to the United States, they lived for a short while at Fort Sill, Oklahoma before permanently returning to the Philadelphia area where they both grew up.

Eleanor always had a love of history, especially that of Colonial America and the era of the Pre- and Post-revolutionary War era. She worked as a volunteer guide at the Elfreth's Alley Museum for many years, eventually working to organize and schedule the other volunteer guides before the later organization of the museum occurred. She loved being there, talking about architecture, early colonial life, the founding fathers, and other museums and attractions in the region.

Later in life, she became a paid guide at the Penn Mutual (Insurance Company's) Observation Deck, which was located atop the tower of the Penn Mutual building immediately behind Independence Hall. From the top you could see the location of all the major historic landmarks in the area, how the city was laid out originally, and how it grew up over the years. While there, she moved on to be an assistant manager, and eventually took over as manager until the facility was closed by Penn Mutual.

Afterwards, she became a VIP – Volunteer in Park – with the National Park Service as a guide at Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell Pavilion (old and new). After applying for a full time position, she was hired full-time as a National Park Ranger – Interpretive at Independence National Historical Park, which means she researched and talked about the history of the park, its buildings, and people. She loved working Independence Hall, along with the Franklin Court Printing Office where she learned to set up the characters for the printing press and actually print various documents by hand. She also worked at The Dolly Todd (Madison) House, the (Edgar Allan) Poe House, Carpenter's Hall, Old City Hall, as well as the other park locations. She was friends with many coworkers, Park Service curators, and architectural historians in the area.

While studying research in preparation for the Bicentennial of the United States Constitution in 1986, Eleanor learned that the Iroquois Nation had a "constitution" that governed all the member nations. She found many parallels between their framework and the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights. She believed our Founding Fathers, who were well read and well learned men, may have adopted and adapted many of the ideas in the Iroquois "constitution". This is what started her admiration for Native Americans.

When she retired, she was able to lock the front (Chestnut Street) door of Independence Hall for the last time, and keep her replica key.

After retiring and preceded in death by her mother, she moved to Foulkeways at Gwynedd where spent the last 24 years in good health for most of her years. She enjoyed numerous committees, activities (especially swimming when she could), and her many friends there. She also enjoyed arts and crafts, sewing, and making quilts for children receiving chemotherapy as well as frail seniors. She was an amateur archeologist, helping with a few archeological digs in the Olde City part of Philadelphia, as well as a couple of sites at Valley Forge National Historical Park.

Eleanor is survived by her son Gerard Francis (Jerry) and his wife Jo Ann Haney, as well as her granddaughter Carolyn Marie Herbert and her husband Eric Williams.

Relatives and friends are invited to share in Eleanor's Life Celebration on Wednesday September 4, from 10 to 10:50 AM, followed by her Funeral Mass at 11 AM at St. Rose of Lima Church 428 S Main St, North Wales, PA 19454. Family Services are by Boyd-Horrox-Givnish of East Norriton, 610-277-7000. Interment will be at Holy Cross Cemetery in Yeadon.

Eleanor was always supportive of Native Americans and their culture. She often sent donations to help Native Americans in all parts of the country. In lieu of flowers, donations in Eleanor's name can be made to any such organization.

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Boyd-Horrox-Givnish Funeral Home, Inc.

200 West Germantown Pike
Norristown, PA 19401
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