Parks and Recreation Image

Juneau-Douglas City Museum

Gruber, Eleanor Eveline

by Eleanor Gruber Smith

Eleanor was born in Kennicott in 1916, to Evans and Clara Gruber. She was born in a tent during a terrible storm and the wind blew off the roof and her mother had to be transported to the hospital with her baby.

Eleanor’s parents left Kennicott when she was about five years old and she attended the Juneau schools through grade and high school. Her parents moved to Thane when she was in the 7th grade and she attended the Thane School. Helen Bolyan was the teacher and there were about 16 students in all the grades. Mrs. Bolyan placed them all together in order to teach more efficiently. Eleanor spent two years at that school before entering the high school in Juneau from which she graduated in 1933.

Eleanor later married Bud Sutherland and had the misfortune of having a stillborn full-term baby. She and Bud moved to Seattle and the marriage failed. Later, Eleanor married Bruce W. Smith who had been born in Skagway and knew her parents in Juneau. It was a happy marriage and they had many adventures traveling in their motor vehicle. Bruce died of cancer in 1995. Eleanor then moved back to Alaska and is now living in Anchorage. She has a few classmates still living in Anchorage, mainly Clyde Bolyan, George Karabelnikoff and Oliver Kola who she sees frequently.

During her life, she took many courses in community college and also Edmonds College and worked for a firm of attorneys in Seattle from whom she retired after 25 years. She had lots of roots in Alaska and carried fond memories of Kennicott. The children who lived there prior to its closing are called “The Kennicott Kids” and they meet frequently at different Alaskan events. She has one daughter living in Bothel, Washington, two granddaughters and six great grandchildren. She keeps busy doing garden work, loving flowers and birds and attending various events in Anchorage.