Eleanor Claire Stubblefield Neel of Fayetteville, Ark., died on Friday, January 26, 2024 at the Willard Walker Hospice House. She was born in Springdale, Ark., on November 27, 1930, the daughter of Garland Augustus Stubblefield and Sylvia Claire Brown Stubblefield. She graduated from El Dorado High School in 1948 and attended Lindenwood College in St. Charles, Mo. for two years. She pledged Chi Omega and graduated from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville in 1952 with a Bachelor's degree in Vocal Music Education. She studied church music for two years at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky. In 1953 she married Henry Sidney Neel, Jr., son of Henry Sidney Neel and Orpha Ellen Hill Neel of Stuttgart, Ark. After moving to Chicago, III in 1955, Eleanor attended the McCormick Theological Seminary with a major in church music. She earned a Master's in Vocal Performance from the American Conservatory of Music. Her vocal teachers included Rosa Raisa, Carmen Melis, Hermanus Baer, Lester Hodges, Frances Grund and William Browning. She was employed in the professional choir of St. James Episcopal Cathedral in Chicago under music director and organist Dr. Leo Sowerby. She also sang in Fourth Presbyterian Choir under Barrett Spach and was alto soloist at Euclid Avenue Methodist Church. She sang with Music of the Baroque at Rockefeller Chapel at the University of Chicago and in a professional quartet at Temple Mizpah. She was alto soloist at the Winnetka Congregational Church. In 1958, she was invited to audition and earned a position in the alto section in the newly-created Chicago Symphony Orchestra Chorus under the direction of Margaret Hillis. During her 20-year tenure she performed at Orchestra Hall, Ravinia and Carnegie Hall. The Chorus earned a Grammy Award for their performance of the Brahms Requiem under the direction of Ms. Hillis and Sir Georg Solti. Upon moving to Fayetteville, Arkansas in 1978, Eleanor was the regional coordinator for Amnesty International. She taught vocal performance and gave recitals. She studied the life, works, and theology of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and was elected to the Board of Directors for the International Bonhoeffer Society. She researched, wrote and presented at Bonhoeffer conferences all over the world, including London, Berlin, Wroclaw, Poland, and Johannesburg, South Africa. In 1996 she met Bishop Desmond Tutu. Her later years were spent with her grandchildren, traveling and attending St. Paul's Episcopal Church, where she was a member for 46 years. She is survived by her three children: Eliot Davidson Neel, Hope Claire Williamson Neel, and Druellen Lucy Dodson Neel Glauber (David Glauber). Other survivors include her grandchildren Ruthie, Nathaniel and John Glauber. A memorial service will be held on Thursday, March 14, 3 p.m., at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Fayetteville, Ark. Arrangements are by Moore's Chapel. No flowers please; memorials may be made to Friends of Music, c/o St. Paul's Episcopal Church, 224 N. East Avenue, Fayetteville, Ark., 72701.
Published February 11, 2024