Eleanor Louise Rusnak, age 94, passed away peacefully on May 26, 2020, in Irving, TX. She was born October 11, 1925, in Cyclone, TX, to John Victor Kohut and Millie Lena Helble. Her father owned a general store and her mother was a homemaker. She graduated from Rogers High School. Eleanor earned her teaching certificate in Bell County. She taught the lower five grades at Thompson School in Bell County Rural School District. She married Sergeant Ervin Steve Rusnak on July 15, 1945, at Saint Joseph Catholic Church in Cyclone TX. They were stationed at the Alamogordo Army Air Force Base in New Mexico. In 1950, Sergeant and Mrs. Rusnak then made their home in Irving, TX and were married for 55 years until Ervin’s passing in 2000 at the age of 79. Eleanor gave birth to Sharon Ann in 1949. She taught first grade at Saint Luke’s Catholic School. In 1957, Ervin Steve Jr. was born and so began her life as a homemaker residing in Irving for over 70 years.
Her life was interrupted in 1965, when Eleanor was diagnosed of a terminal cancer condition. Doctors told her she had 6 months to live. To that she replied, “I can’t go yet, I have too much to do.” I have to raise my two children and make breakfast for my husband”. She was among the first to receive cutting edge cancer treatment and her recovery was classified as a miracle at MD Anderson Hospital in Houston, TX. Her case was used in medical journals and research by the hospital.
Eleanor was known as Butch to her husband and relatives. She picked cotton, always had the whitest whites on the clothesline, ironed her husband’s handkerchiefs, was scared of mice and getting pecked by a rooster. She loved the Dallas Cowboys and never missed a game.
Eleanor cherished her family and took pride in providing home-cooked meals always including three or four fresh vegetables grown from her own garden. She enjoyed canning, dancing, sewing and playing the Czech card game, Tarocks with friends. The family spent time together camping and fishing in area lakes and the Brazos River. She played with her daughter in her very own playhouse. She would sing, “Puffs and Fido, Chicks and Calfy” while drying her daughter’s hair.
Baking became one of her specialties. She even baked two cakes a week so her husband would have something sweet to eat every day in his lunchbox. When arriving on holidays, she would make homemade cornbread and bread crumbs for “turkey and dressing”. We can still see the bread laid upon pans drying out before being prepared for her dressing. Everyone ran to the dessert table for Rice Krispy treats, Texas Chocolate Sheet Cake, homemade bread, coconut cream pie, her much revered angel food cake with her seven-minute icing. Family favorites were Czech desserts including her “Out of this World” kolaches and cinnamon rolls.
Some fond memories were her simple treats like crackers and chocolate icing, Easter bunny cake, coleslaw, creamy rice, buttermilk, fresh mint tea, hand-picked strawberries, thick milkshakes, Dr. Pepper floats, sugar toast, snow ice cream, and canned dill pickles. The adults went on to indulge a “high ball”.
She was like a grandmother to everyone and was adored and known as “Granny”. She loved having her grandchildren and great-grandchildren over to play mud pies, get dirty, collect eggs from the chicken coop, and play Croquet in the backyard. They had picnics in the front yard, made homemade donuts, played teacher on her chalkboard, curled her hair, ice skated down the hall in slippers, swam in trash bags, walked on stilts, and swung on the tire swing. Granny would always have gum and Dr. Pepper.
Eleanor was known to say:
Y’all play pretty
That’s not necessary
Act of Contrition
That’s a no-no
First One to Sleep Gets a Nickel
Even though Eleanor was a dedicated wife and busy mother and grandmother she would go out of her way to volunteer asking nothing in return. Eleanor was a devout Catholic, a member of St. Luke’s Catholic Church for over 60 years. Through her research and as historian at St. Luke’s, the State of Texas erected a historical marker at the church’s entrance that bears her name.
Eleanor was involved in many different organizations including:
St. Luke Altar Society
St. Luke Silver Seniors
Church Historian of St. Luke’s
Vice President and Publicity Chairman of St. Luke’s
2nd Vice Regent and 50-year member of Catholic Daughters of America
2002 Woman of the Year and Deanery Delegate to Dallas Diocesan Council of Catholic Women
Associate of the National Council of Catholic Women
Member of Church Women United of Dallas
Irving Heritage Society Senior Center
Life Member and Charter member of Irving Heritage Society
Life Member of the Braniff Airways Retirement Club
50-year member of SPJST Lodge #47 Seaton, TX
Vice-President of RVOS Lodge #142 Dallas, TX
Vice-President and Historian of WFLA Lodge #401 Dallas, TX
Member of KJZT Lodge # 108 Dallas, TX
Delegate to Texas Czech Heritage
Delegate to Czech Cultural Society
Delegate to Texas Fraternal Congress
Delegate to Dallas/Ennis Fraternal Council
Rural Life Chairman of Dallas Diocesan Council of Catholic Women
In the last two years of her life, Eleanor bravely fought cancer. She was able to attend virtual Mass in the hospital with her daughter. She will remain a living legend to all those who knew her.
Eleanor was preceded in death by her father, John Victor Kohut, mother, Millie Helble Kohut, brother, Lansing B. Kohut, sisters, Cleo Leibham and Alberta Green, husband, Ervin Rusnak Sr., and numerous nieces and nephews.
She is survived by her son, Ervin Rusnak and wife Donna, daughter, Sharon Rusnak Sulak and husband Marvin, grandchildren, Christy Sulak Koelzer and husband Helmuth, Cheryl Sulak Moehling and husband Jeffrey, Michelle Sulak Crowder and husband Christian, Lindsay Rusnak Parks and husband Kyle, and Chelsea Rusnak Rollins and husband Tre, great-grandchildren, Scott Koelzer, Amanda Koelzer, Zachary Koelzer, Nicholas Koelzer, Matthew Moehling, Ella Moehling, Grayson Crowder, Braydon Crowder, Karina Parks, and Lawson Parks.
In celebration of Eleanor’s life, a memorial Mass will be held June 1st at St. Luke Catholic Church in Irving, Texas at 11:00am. A private family visitation will be held at Ben F. Brown Funeral Home in Irving Texas on June 1st following the memorial mass. A visitation will be at Harper-Talasek Funeral Home in Temple, TX on June 2nd from 4-6pm with a Rosary at 5pm. On June 3rd, a Mass will be celebrated at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Cyclone, TX at 10 am. Eleanor will be laid to rest at St. Joseph Catholic Cemetery in Cyclone, TXimmediately following Mass.
Pall Bearers: Helmuth Koelzer, Jeffrey Moehling, Christian Crowder, Kyle Parks, Tre Rollins, and Scott Koelzer
For a full obituary and details about Eleanor, please visit www.brownmem.com or call 972-254-4242 or call Harper-Talasek Funeral Home 254-773-4564.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations in memory of Eleanor to St. Luke’s Catholic Church, Irving, TX.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Eleanor Louise Rusnak, please visit our floral store.