Eleanor M. Groel


Eleanor Groel passed away peacefully on Feb. 1, 2022 at the Henrietta Brewer House in Vineyard Haven where she lived the last few years. She was just two months shy of her 101st birthday. 

She was born Eleanor Adelaide Mencke on April 8, 1921, in Philadelphia, Pa. to John William Henry Mencke and Eleanor Alsop Mencke. She graduated from Westfield High School in Westfield N.J. and remained friends with many of her school mates.

Ellie, as her friends and family knew her, graduated from Smith College in 1942. When the war started, she joined the Navy Waves, rising to Lt. (j.g.).  She thought her assignment would be to some faraway post. Instead, the Navy initially dispatched her to Northampton, Mass. for basic training, just blocks away from Smith College.

She was assigned to the Brooklyn Navy Yard where she met Lt. Gordon K. Reese and they were married on Feb. 14, 1944. The Navy reassigned Lt. Reese to Long Beach, Calif. where their first child, Gordon K. Reese Jr. was born. Adventure arrived when General Motors, Gordon’s post-war employer, sent the young Reese family to South Africa for four years.

 Back in New Jersey, Ellie became full-time mother to Gordon and Sally who was born in 1950. She was a Cub and Girl Scout leader and always found time for volunteer work. She loved books and worked for several years in a friend’s bookstore. After some math tutoring, she decided to teach fulltime and did so for 20 years in Westfield, while also attaining her master’s degree.

The family first rented on Martha’s Vineyard in the summer of 1950, and the camp on Chilmark Pond was a second home for 25 years. Ellie took all the Vineyard in, from fishing and clamming, to tackling the daily crossword on Abel’s Hill beach. She played golf for many years, but tennis was her love and she played well into her mid-eighties. 

In those days, husbands came up mostly on weekends and she had great fun at her ladies “friendly hour” or around the bridge table.  In 1975, her then son-in-law, Richard Anderson, built her a classic post and beam house on Abel’s Hill, where she enjoyed entertaining for many years. Today, it’s the home of her granddaughter, Elizabeth Anderson Moriarty, her husband, Tim, and their three children. 

After her first marriage ended, Ellie met and married Campbell C. Groel in 1983, blending together two families, lots of shared friends, and a love of the Vineyard. Ellie retired from teaching which freed them to travel, including to Europe on the Queen Elizabeth II and back home on the famed Concord. They began splitting their time between Campbell’s home in Llewellyn Park in West Orange, N.J., Vero Beach Fla., and, of course, the Vineyard. Eventually, for the last 25 years of their active retirement years, it was Vero Beach in the winter with many Vineyard friends and Campbell’s former Princeton classmates, and the Island every summer. For many years, her daughter Sally went to Vero Beach in April to share their joint birthdays on April 8. A particularly memorable April was a celebration of Ellie’s 80th birthday with extended family in Florida.

On the Vineyard, Ellie volunteered at the Polly Hill Arboretum and she and Campbell were members of the Edgartown Yacht Club and the Edgartown Golf Club.

The family wants to thank the late Elizabeth Sandland of the former Long Hill in Edgartown, where Ellie lived for several years, enjoying excursions from late afternoon movies to lunch dates. They are also grateful to the caregivers at the Henrietta Brewer House which enabled Ellie to remain on Island and receive home-like care. 

Ellie was predeceased by her husband, Campbell Groel, in 2005, and her first husband, Gordon Reese, in 1999, as well as her brother, John Bernard Mencke. She is survived by her son, Gordon Reese Jr. and his wife, Laurel Walker, of Green Valley, Ariz.; her daughter, Sally Anderson and husband Steve Flanders, of West Tisbury; her three granddaughters, Allison Myers and her husband, Ed, of Folsom, Calif, Mandy Crabtree of Sacramento, Calif., and Liz Moriaty and her husband, Tim, of Chilmark; and her seven great grandchildren, Reese and Sean Crabtree, Matthew and Julia Meyers, and Finn, Maeve and Cormac Moriaty. She is also survived by her two stepsons , Peter Corbin and his wife, Lillian, of Millbrook, N.Y., Hunter Corbin and his wife, Jeanette of Fair Haven, N.J., and their combined 4 children and 7 grandchildren.

A memorial will be held at a future date.