But it did not stop Pettit, who was raised during the Depression.
“She had a lot of stress,” Munson said. “Her brother was killed, then she was divorced and left alone with five little kids. My mom had a lot of struggle. She always looked to the bright side of it. She always could find something good in everything.”
In 1951, she married George Pettit and added two more kids. George died in 1992.
A school teacher at four grade schools over a 30-year career, she stayed active in retirement by being a sub for another 10 years and reading to children at the library. Many students remembered her when they ran into her at the store.
“I couldn’t take her to Walmart,” Munson said. “She had hundreds of students and we would go to Walmart and people would come up behind us. And they would wonder if she would remember them. She would say, ‘I had you in the third grade, how can I remember you?’ But she would always say, ‘We had a good time, didn’t we?’
They would always say, ‘Yes, we did, yes, we did.’”
In her early years, Eleanor wanted to be a geologist or a lawyer. She skipped third grade by learning division during recess. She later was salutatorian at Cordova High School, graduating in 1937 at the age of 16.
Then it was off to Iowa State with two dresses and one pair of shoes. When her dad dropped her off to live with a bunch of older women near campus, he gave her a box of canned fruit “so she didn’t get scurvy,” Munson said.