Eleanor Wilcox, 90, artist, writer of books for teens

February 12, 2006|By RONA MARECH | RONA MARECH,SUN REPORTER

Eleanor Wilcox, an artist and writer whose fascination with American Indian culture and the outdoors inspired her to write two books for teenagers, died Monday of heart failure at Genesis Eldercare Perring Parkway Center in Parkville. She was 90 and was a longtime Forest Park resident.

Born Eleanor Reindollar in Baltimore, she attended Western High School and Maryland Institute College of Art, where she studied fashion design.

She met her future husband, George C. Wilcox Jr., while they were both students at MICA, and their 52-year marriage was marked by creativity. When they were students, the two collaborated every year on elaborate pirate and gypsy outfits to wear to the school's spring costume ball.

Mr. Wilcox died in 1996.

"They were ideally suited for each other," said son David William Wilcox of Carney.

During World War II, Mrs. Wilcox worked at the central Enoch Pratt Free Library, where she was responsible for the window displays. She also worked at the Maryland Academy of Sciences, which later created the Maryland Science Center.

After the birth of her two sons, Mrs. Wilcox took a job as a secretary at the Park School and wrote two books for young readers. The Cornhusk Doll, published by Dodd, Mead and Co. in 1955, chronicled the adventures of a girl who was kidnapped by American Indians during the French-Indian War.

Mrs. Wilcox was captivated by the richness and variety of American Indian culture, her son said, and she and her husband researched the book for more than 10 years. He recounted how his mother would read sections of it to him and his brother as she wrote.

The book won the Dodd, Mead Librarian Prize Competition for librarians who were writers.

A second book, Mr. Simm's Argosy, published in 1958, focused on the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay. It told the story of a man who taught children about life on the water.

She and her husband, an artist, collaborated on a third manuscript that was never published, her son said.

Mrs. Wilcox was longtime congregant at St. Mark's United Methodist Church, where she assisted at the senior center and sometimes wrote Christmas pageants.

An avid hiker, she was a member of the Mountain Club of Maryland and, into her 80s, was part of the Archeological Society of Maryland. She explored American Indian and Colonial sites with the group, whose newsletter she edited for many years.

Mrs. Wilcox loved cats and enjoyed gardening and reading. She was also a fan of the author J.R.R. Tolkien, whose imaginary societies thrilled her.

Rarely in a bad moods, Mrs. Wilcox possessed an enviable cheerfulness, her son said, adding, "If I could bottle it, I'd be a millionaire."

Services were held Thursday.

She is also survived by another son, George Reindollar Wilcox of Edgemere, as well as two grandchildren.

rona.marech@baltsun.com

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