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August 2019

The History Corner

by David Mostardi, Club Historian

Once Upon A Hillside: 25, 50, 75 and 100 years ago

It is with great sadness that I note the passing of Eleanor Weigand, a Hillside Club member since 1984. Below I include her obituary, originally published in East Bay Times on July 19th.

In the mid-1980s, the Hillside Club was still staging a home-grown musical “Spring Extravaganza” every April. Dozens of Club members were involved: writing dialog, composing songs, painting sets, working the lights, selling tickets, and of course acting, singing and dancing on stage. And who choreographed the dance numbers? Eleanor Weigand, proprietress of the Eleanor Edson Dance Studio.

I would also like to add my personal memory of many Club dinners with Eleanor in attendance. I will always remember her warm smile and engaging personality.

Eleanor Weigand 7 December 1915 - 1 July 2019

Eleanor Weigand, loving mother of three daughters, passed away at home with family by her side at the age of 103.

Eleanor, also affectionately known as “Miss Edson” (to her students from over 85 years of teaching dance), “Mrs. Worthington” (for her many appearances at Contra Costa Civic Theater) and of course “Nonie” (as she was lovingly called by her grandchildren and great-grandchildren), was born on December 7th, 1915 in Santa Cruz, California. Eleanor’s family moved to Berkeley when she was very young. She graduated from Berkeley High School in 1932 and from there went on to UC Berkeley. With a love of ballet and no such major at Cal Berkeley, the closest thing was graduating with a degree in French Literature. It was at Cal, during a Masonic dance, that she met the love of her life, Clarke Weigand. After Clarke graduated from UC Berkeley School of Law, the two were married in 1941 and made their home in Berkeley where they raised their three daughters Janine, Maryse, and Tina.

Eleanor had a passion for dance! As a young college student, she taught her first dance lessons in the living room of her small apartment on Solano Ave. Once married, Eleanor and Clarke were fortunate to find the perfect home on The Alameda that conveniently had a dance studio in the upstairs. The Eleanor Edson Dance Studio was a thriving dance school for children throughout Berkeley and Albany. In addition to the studio, Eleanor taught dance at The Nomura School in El Cerrito for many years.

With a love for Hawaiian music and dance, Eleanor began teaching Hawaiian dance to adults at the Berkeley City Club, Rossmoor in Walnut Creek and the Richmond Senior Center. All told, Eleanor taught dance to thousands of children and adults over a span of more than 85 years!

After moving to El Cerrito in 1984, Eleanor started a new phase in her dance career and began to do the choreography for the Contra Costa Civic Theater musicals. It was there that she performed many times as the memorable “Mrs. Worthington.”

Dance was a gift that she passed on to her daughters and countless others. We will always remember her for her love of dance, artistic flare, as well as her quick wit and humor. She is survived by her three daughters, Janine Berz (Don), Palm Desert, Maryse Young (Ed), Berkeley and Tina Williams (Doug), Seattle, along with her six grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren—all who absolutely adored their “Nonie.”

Eleanor was preceded in death by her sister Patricia Allen and brother Henry Edson and is now reunited with her husband and favorite dance partner, Clarke.

A celebration of her life will be held on Saturday, October 5th, 2019 at 1pm at Northbrae Community Church, 941 The Alameda, Berkeley, CA 94707.

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