Eleanor Lippman

Memorial notice for Northwest Folk Dancers Inc. (NFDI)


Born in the Bronx, Eleanor Lippman moved to Seattle in 1946 with her husband, Leopold. There they raised four boys. 

In the mid-1950s she embarked upon a lifelong pursuit of folk dancing. She and Leo went to a dance class at the downtown Seattle YMCA. They thought they were going square dancing, but they were drawn to a different class, which turned out to be folk dancing. The music, the dances, and the spirit captivated Eleanor for life.

Eleanor danced weekly or more, and a summer highlight was attending the state folk dance festival in Enumclaw, and other festivals as well, with the entire family. The family home was full of dance music, especially Balkan, and host to an occasional dance party. The children were exposed to the folk dance culture, and the cultures of the countries of origin, from early ages. Two of the four, Roger and Peter, remain dancers to this day, more than 60 years on.

With her close friend Alice Nugent, Eleanor co-founded Festival Folkdancers around 1960. She also performed in various exhibition groups. Eleanor embroidered her own costumes, representing Croatia, Norway, Germany, Ukraine, and elsewhere.

Eleanor taught dancing at her children’s elementary schools in Madrona and Lake Forest Park.

She brought some of her kids along to NFDI mailing parties, and to collect admission charges at dances.

For years, Eleanor remained close to numerous folk dancing friends, including Joan Harris, Stan Stapp and Dorothy Dunstan Stapp, Royal and Vi Drummond, Virginia Ramm, Violeta Holm, Bill Sellars, Kathy Anciaux Sellars, Julius Schmidt, and Ted Morgan, as well as Alice and Carl Nugent.

Dances were held at Eagleson Hall, on 15th Avenue NE (when it was a YMCA); American Legion Hall at NE 50th & Roosevelt (before it became the Seven Gables Theater); IOGT Hall, on Virginia Street, near the Greyhound terminal; and Skandia Ballroom in the Wilsonian Hotel, at NE 47th and University Way. The Third Friday dance at Eagleson was the monthly highlight. After the dance, this group of friends would decamp for an afterparty at The Coals, a comfortable grilled-meat joint on 25th Avenue NE near 55th Street.

Eleanor's sons remain friends with the children of some of these dancers.

In 1963 the family moved to Sacramento, and in 1968 to New Jersey. Eleanor worked for many years as a planner for the New York City Department of Transportation. In retirement, she traveled the world and became an award-winning photographer.

She danced in Sacramento with Camtia; with Michael Herman in New York City; with Jim Gold in Teaneck, NJ; and with Ginny and Hal Brandmaier in Demarest, NJ. She continued to dance in New Jersey until about age 97. She had started to slow down in her mid-80s, then undergoing a hip replacement at age 88. She exercised diligently afterwards and soon was dancing again. On her 90th birthday she said, “I feel so wonderful. I can do all these things at 90 that I couldn’t do at 80.”

She devoted years of volunteering to community and progressive and environmental causes. She raised her sons to think independently and do good works in the world.

A memorial for Eleanor is posted at http://eleanor.lippnet.us/memorial.htm