Eleanor S. Fernau


Eleanor S. Fernau, 82, of Ballston Spa, NY, passed away peacefully Monday, January 21, 2019 at the Wesley Health Care Center in Saratoga Springs.

Ellie was born June 16, 1936 in White Plains, NY. Her parents were the late Henry and Alexandra “Sasha” (Tarasuik) Eberle of White Plains. She graduated from Briarcliff Manor (NY) High School and from MacMurray College in Jacksonville, IL, class of 1958, where she majored in speech and theatre-related arts. In both high school and college she was a field hockey player, as evidenced by the “hockey hip” that her children received if they didn’t move quickly enough. She worked briefly at Readers Digest in Pleasantville, NY, after graduation and before marriage. She also worked for many years as a clerk at the Ballston Spa Public Library, where she was able to share her life-long enthusiasm for reading with a broad spectrum of library patrons.

In her leisure time, she enjoyed vacationing on Cape Cod, cruising used book stores for the detective stories that she loved, and going on August Thursdays to the Saratoga Race Track, using her inexplicable handicapping system to come home a winner (or so she claimed). She loved her lunches with the International Club and her sessions with the local Home Arts Club. She traveled with her husband to the roaming reunions that her MacMurray class held all over the country, as well as vacations to other beautiful locations, often involving “chasing trains.” For many years she very much enjoyed bowling with her teammates at the local lanes and regional competitions. She was always happy with a cat in her lap and a cup of coffee at hand.

In 2004, the Village of Ballston Spa honored Ellie with the Bernard C. Puckhaber Memorial Award “For [her] dedication to this community through service and volunteerism.” From the time that she moved to the village, she was active, at first through the Cub Scouts and the public schools, where she used her educational background in speech and drama to help with her son’s school plays in many capacities ranging from advice to backstage activities such as make-up and costumes. She was also active in “Meals on Wheels” and local blood drives (sometimes as co-chair), in addition to donating more than 8 gallons of blood over the years.

After leaving her position at the library, she later served as a Member and President of the library’s Board of Trustees. But the volunteering that gave her the most satisfaction over more than 20 years was her work with the Community Emergency Corps. She started as an ambulance driver and then quickly earned her Emergency Medical Technician certification. For many years she was one of the few people available to do day-time calls. For her many hours of service on the truck along with her committee and officer work she received the Corps’s Captains’ Award (twice) and President’s Award. She finished out her “career” as a member of the Board of Directors. Ellie said that her greatest satisfaction was when she made a difference in someone’s life, such as the time that her crew reversed a cardiac arrest (for which she and her crew received a commendation from the Emergency Medical Services Council of Saratoga County). Her greatest frustrations were those times when everything possible was done but the outcome was not what was hoped for.

Ellie married Edward Fernau on August 22, 1959. They lived in Cohoes, NY; Stuttgart, Germany; Colonie, NY; and, for the past 48 years, in the Village of Ballston Spa. In addition to Ed, survivors include her sister Kyra V. Eberle of Klamath Falls, OR; her son Mark Fernau and his wife Melissa of Clinton, MA; son Jason Fernau and his wife Kathy of Malta, NY; and five grandchildren: Fletcher (Grenye) Fernau, Leanne Fernau, Henry Fernau, Gwen Fernau, and Jillian Fernau. She was predeceased by her sisters Helene A. and Margaret R. Eberle.

Calling hours from 1 to 3 PM, immediately followed by a time during which friends and family can share memories of Ellie, will be held on Saturday January 26, 2019, at the Armer Funeral Home, Inc., 39 East High St., Ballston Spa. Interment will be later in the spring at Gerald B.H. Solomon Saratoga National Cemetery.

The family thanks the staff at the Wesley for their compassionate care. In lieu of flowers, contributions in Ellie’s memory may be made to the Community Emergency Corps, 78 Thompson St., Ballston Spa, NY, 12020.

Guest Book

Ginny Humphrey

I had the pleasure of knowing Ellie for years before actually working with her. She was such a friendly, helpful presence at the Ballston Spa Public Library, always willing to chat about a book or share an experience. After I started working there, Ellie retired and ultimately joined the Board. She was the last of three wonderful Board presidents I worked under at the Library, during my 16 years there. She made a wonderful leader, sometimes tactfully channeling people in a common direction without them fully realizing they had changed their minds. She loved her community and proved it almost daily. She was truly a special person.

Lorna and Bob Kay

Our condolences to Ed and all the Fernau family. We have several happy memories of Ellie from visits to Camp Red Pine, and think of her fondly.

Tracy Egan

What a lovely caring lady your family and our community has lost. As the daughter of a Librarian I always paid special attention to every Librarian I ever met. Ellie was always kind and helpful even to the sometimes very shy patrons who walked into her Library.

Renee and Lorraine Janack

Truly a beautiful soul; she will be deeply missed.

Stan DeLong

Ed and Family, my heartfelt condolences to you all. I was reflecting back on all the funny moments shared with Ellie during our many years at Community Emergency Corps. She definitely could make me laugh! Her wonderful energy and disposition will be missed. I know she is in our Lords hands now to begin her new life. Rest in Peace Ellie, thank you for all you did throughout the years in our community.

Chuck Lane

Sad day, I am a regular at the library sales. She will be missed.

Jan Paxton

A beautiful tribute to a wonderful person. May Ellie Rest In Peace and rise in glory!

Betty and Frederick Walters

Deeply felt condolences to the family of my friend of over 60 years. She was a fountain of energy, full of fun, and a woman of high principle.