Eleanor Leaver, Illustrator, 93

March 10, 1920 - Feb. 16, 2014
Eleanor Leaver,  March 10, 1920 - Feb. 16, 2014

       Eleanor Allen Leaver, an illustrator who captured in fine detail many of East Hampton Town’s most notable places, died at Southampton Hospital on Feb. 16 from complications due to injuries from a recent fall. Mrs. Leaver, who was known as Chip, was 93 and was still drawing on commission.

       A Springs resident for 43 years, at 90 she published a book of her work, “Penline Drawings of East Hampton Township,” featuring 117 drawings ranging from historical landmarks to private houses.

       In the book, she recalled first drawing at the age 6. She attended the Rhode Island School of Design, and then the Art Students League in New York City. She began her career as an illustrator, and went on to work as an art director for various advertising agencies. She was also a part-time teacher at the Pratt Institute for a few years, teaching life drawing and fashion drawing.

       Born Eleanor Allen on March 10, 1920, in Whitensville, Mass., her parents were George Roswell Allen and the former Margaret Gibson.

       At RISD, she met H. Gardner Leaver, whom she married on Aug. 9, 1943. Mr. Leaver enlisted in the Navy as a pilot during his senior year, and after World War II the couple moved to New York City, where he worked as a furniture designer and decorative painter. He died in 1990.

       They had three children, all of whom survive: Dorian Nisinson of New York City, Rusty Leaver of Weatherford, Tex., the former owner of Deep Hollow Ranch in Montauk, and Brian Leaver of Amagansett.

       In the early 1950s, the couple began visiting Hy Sobiloff, a poet, at his summer house in Montauk. In 1960, they rented houses for the summer in Montauk, and decided to move to the South Fork permanently in 1970. They rented in East Hampton first, and within a few years purchased a property with an unusual structure that eventually became known as “the round house” on Deep Six Drive in Springs. They finished the project and moved there in 1973, living there until the 1980s, when they moved to Fireplace Road.

       Upon moving to East Hampton, she began working on a series of pen and wash drawings of scenes in the village. Jeannette E. Rattray, then the publisher of The East Hampton Star, reproduced many of the drawings in the newspaper.

       In 1984, Mrs. Leaver was elected the first president of the Jimmy Ernst Artist Alliance, which later became the Artists Alliance of East Hampton. She served for six years, a time she described in her book as busy and happy. In August 2013, she and Ralph Carpentier, another Springs artist, were honored at the 46th annual Artists of the Springs Invitational at Ashawagh Hall for their longtime commitment to the arts.

       After a friend, Renee Shilhab, the wife of then Town Supervisor Tony Bullock, asked her to do some penline drawings of East End restaurants for a restaurant review book she was working on in 1996, Mrs. Leaver decided to turn her talents to other local scenes. She designed a flyer, and as a result, received several commissions, including from local real estate companies for “house portraits” that agents would give to their clients as gifts. She also did illustrations for the Maidstone Club for a book, “The Maidstone Links,” and showed her work in many local galleries.

       Aside from art, Mrs. Leaver loved gardening, and was a raconteur, her family said. “She loved any excuse for a celebration and bringing friends and family together,” they said. She liked to introduce people that she felt would enjoy each other. She was young at heart, they said, and always maintained a positive outlook and strove to see the good in people.

       In addition to her children, Mrs. Leaver is survived by six grandchildren and four nieces and nephews. Her brother, Gordon Allen of Marstons Mills, Mass., also survives. Another brother, Everett Gaspar, died before her.

       Mrs. Leaver did not wish to have a funeral, but a memorial is being planned for May 25 at Ashawagh Hall.

       Her family has suggested memorial contributions to the Springs Improvement Society, P.O. Box 537, East Hampton 11937.