Eleanor L. Courtney
Eleanor L. Courtney

Eleanor L. Courtney, Ph.D, passed away peacefully with family present on Aug. 4, 2023, in Sedona Arizona. She had just turned 99.

Born July 13, 1924  in Tibet of missionary parents, she was raised in Yunnan, China, and educated in Hong Kong. Fleeing the Japanese invasion of Manchuria and dodging the bombs falling on Kunming, Eleanor came to the United States when she was 17.

Her dreams of attending Cambridge (where she had been accepted) shattered by World War II and the need to help her now widowed mother make a living in the U.S., Eleanor eventually enrolled at Westmont College (then in Los Angeles) earning her BA in English literature in 1945.

She married Dr. Charles Courtney in 1945, on the day they both graduated from Westmont. They were married for 35 years.

Eleanor taught English at Westmont as a professor of English literature from 1952-97 at the Montecito campus, earning her masters and doctorate degrees meanwhile in medieval literature from the University of Arizona while raising five children.

Eleanor specialized in Chaucer, and would have student gatherings at the Santa Barbara house for which guests dressed as figures from “The Canterbury Tales.”

Eleanor also authored a half dozen books detailing her memoirs of China; one yet unfinished at the time of her passing. Of her five children Roxane, Odette, Rosine, Breton and Gavin, she is survived by three (Roxane, Rosine and Breton).

A graveside service will be held at 11 a.m. Dec. 15 at Goleta Cemetery, Santa Barbara, followed by a memorial lunch at 1 p.m. at Meet Up Chinese Cuisine restaurant, 2251 Las Positas Road, Santa Barbara. All are welcome to attend.

“The Lake Isle of Innisfree”

“I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,

And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:

Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee;

And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,

Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;

There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,

And evening full of the linnet’s wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;

While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,

I hear it in the deep heart’s core.”

— William Butler Yeats,