building -> growing -> alive (in memory of eleanor mailloux)

Our dear friend and heroine Eleanor Mailloux passed away peacefully this morning. Just a year ago we posted a film of her in full regalia (above) for the wild Fasnacht Festival in her tiny Appalachian settlement of  Helvetia where folks dress up in homemade masks to scare away Old Man Winter (this year’s took place last Saturday). She was angry that we had included her age in the post. “It doesn’t matter what my age is. It just matters who I am.”

Who she was was a fiercely creative and original person. She had traveled the world but her great love and work was helping the tiny, unique village of her childhood thrive, preserving its Swiss culture and running the Helvetia’s only restaurant and inn. Over the thirty-plus years that we knew her, when times would be really tough she would say simply, It’s all right. It’ll be all right. Somehow, it always was.

Her next project was to be a Museum to preserve the wonderful masks people made for Fasnacht. She wrote us this letter, full of her off-the-cuff wisdom:

I’m fevered with dreams for the Mask Museum. I wonder why.

I had a dear old Chinese friend on Guam. His name was Charlie Corn. One day I asked Charlie: “Charlie, why do you keep building on to your pavilion?” His answer was: “When I’m building, I’m growing and when I’m growing I’m alive.”

You’ll find Eleanor and Helvetia in these posts: Fasnacht: Wild + Creative Antidote for Winter and A Mind Game for Cultivating Resourcefulness.

We’re going to take some time off to remember her.

4 Responses to building -> growing -> alive (in memory of eleanor mailloux)

  1. name Louise 03.10.2011 at 9:19am #

    Thanks for the bringing this touching piece of history and inspiration.

  2. Sally 03.10.2011 at 3:13pm #

    Thank YOU for seeing/getting it.

  3. kristina 03.10.2011 at 10:13pm #

    We were so lucky to have known Eleanor and to have lived in Helvetia for a short time. I am so happy there is a clip of her. Thank you

  4. nameanita calero 04.08.2011 at 11:08am #

    Always thinking of you…..

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