Eleanore Benedict Hoar


Eleanore Benedict Hoar died peacefully with her pearls on — a lady to the end — on September 27, 2014.

Born in Greenfield in 1918, she lived a long, interesting life. Far ahead of her time, she broke new ground by being one of the only young ladies matriculating at Deerfield Academy when it was an all boys school, graduating in 1936. She went on to graduate from Katherine Gibbs, and just before WWII, she married Sherman Hoar, a recent Harvard graduate, and soon became a war bride when he joined the Army Air Force in 1940 and was shipped to Europe. Upon his return to the States he became a professor at the University of Massachusetts and Amherst College and she a faculty wife.

Then, 50 years ago, an interesting shift occurred when she went from faculty wife to one of being the wife of a diplomat — she used to say she had to learn not to put her feet on the coffee table! — but in reality a covert operations officer acting under diplomatic cover. She combined a career of raising her two children with being an agent for the CIA (as in spy!) in Hong Kong in the mid-fifties, joining her husband who headed up intelligence going in and out of China.

This was followed by a stint in Peru in the 1960s. The oft-times glamorous life of a diplomat, clothed in beautiful gowns entertaining the top dignitaries from around the world, and the day to day managing of her household staff, were only part of her duties.

She, as did Sherman, believed that effective intelligence is our nation’s first line of defense against surprise abroad, subversion at home, and possible dangerous miscalculation by our national administrators in the conduct of foreign and defense policy, and they both took their positions very seriously. She later became a member of the Association of American Intelligence Officers (AFIO), an organization formed in the early 70’s to help promote understanding of the importance of intelligence. She liked to ask people, who were always surprised at this aspect of her life, “How do you think they ran that (CIA) without a few Mata Haris?!”

Her one regret while in Hong Kong was that she was not allowed to go to Macau to race cars as the Chinese Communists were stopping the ferries and taking hostages from them.  Later in life as a grandmother, as one of her grandsons remembers, she used to take her grandchildren on joy rides on Chappaquiddick and would cover up the speedometer with an envelope so the children could not see how fast she was going!  Seems that speed was a longtime love: she recently told her youngest grandson, “I want to go on a roller coaster.”

Upon returning to the States she eventually trained at Massachusetts General Hospital in the field of learning disabilities in preparation for teaching dyslexic children and SAT prep which she did for many years in New Canaan, Conn.  Her use of “smart pills” (aka TicTacs!) as rewards for performance went far to endear her to her students and their parents who were always thrilled with their young one’s enhanced academic expertise. She loved “her” children and worked very hard on their behalf!

In addition to her daughter, Ann Buttrick Hoar Floyd of Edgartown and Chappaquiddick, and son, Roger Sherman Hoar and his son, Max, of Falmouth, she is also survived by her grandchildren, who called her Feather Gramma (thanks to a dirty old seagull feather, but that is a long story!), Rick Floyd of Gloucester, Leslie Floyd of Vineyard Haven, Mark Floyd and his children, Allison and Jackson, of  Los Gatos, Calif., and Colin Floyd, his wife, Tina, and their children, Matti Lyn, Isabelle, and Rhys, of Chappaquiddick, and Colin’s son Drew Moreis of Vineyard Haven.

She was predeceased by her parents, Cyrus and Dorothy Benedict, her sister, Natalie Burwell of Milwood, Va., and her brother, Dudley Benedict of Mcintosh, Fla.

A service was held on October 1 at the Chappaquiddick Cemetery overlooking Cape Poge, during a wild and blustery nor’easter, her favorite kind of weather. There are those of us that think she planned it that way. Her grave looks across the pond at Tom’s Neck Farm and what her family considers their sacred hill, the place she most loved and the peaceful spot where her family celebrates and ponders all manners of family transitions.