Eleonora Lusicic Eaves
Inducted - St. Louis 1981
Eleonora Lusicic Eaves was born February 9, 1927, in St. Louis, Missouri. She is the daughter of Anna Deranja Lusicic and the late Ivan Lusicic Sr., both of whom are members of the Tamburitza Hall of Fame. She is the sister of Ivan Lusicic, Jr., also a well known tamburitza player and teacher in the St. Louis area. In 1946, Eleonora married Russell G. Eaves and they have one son, Darryl Evon, who lives in St. Louis with his family.
Eleonora is Musical Director of the Croatian Junior Tamburitzans, Director and pianist of the Vila Singing Society of St. Louis, and Director of the Vila Tamburitza Orchestra of the Croatian Sokol Dalmacija. In 1977, she was selected to be the Guest Conductor of the Croatian Fraternal Union Tamburitza Festival held in St. Louis, the first woman to be so honored. The climax of that weekend came when she directed over 900 junior tamburitzans assembled on the stage of Kiel Auditorium in an arrangement of U Boj U Boj from the opera "Zrinski".
Instead of attending Duquesne University where she had been accepted to join the Tamburitzans, she worked toward a debree from the Sanford Brown Business College. She was a booking agent for the Fanchon and Marco Theatrical Agency and went on to become a monument designer and bookkeeper with the Lusicic Monument Company. She is now a freelance artist.
Eleonora received many accolades for her work from the Bayless School System, were as President she raised funds to build a new school addition which houses equipment for a closed circuit TV studio. Also from the Boy Scouts of America for her services as Den Mother and from the American Red Cross. In 1971, the Central Committee of the CFU lodges in St. Louis honored her for perpetuating our culture through music and tambura. And in 1976, she was made an Honorary Member of the Croatian Sokol Dalmacija for her 34 years of work and devotion to their organizations.
Training began early in her life with the study of ballet and toe dancing. Her musical talent was recognized by her parents and Ivan Sr. began teaching her the Farkas Tambura in 1933. She played bisernica with the Primorac Tamburitza Orchestra for a number of years. Then in 1935, when Ivan and Anna started the Hrvatsk Pomladak with young boys and girls, she played many years with them. This group proved to be very popular and played for many programs and events in St. Louis, Mt. Olive, Benld, Sayerville, Illinois, and many other communities.
In 1938, Ivan Sr. originated and hosted the first Croatian Radio Hour, broadcast over WTMV at the Broadview Hotel, East St. Louis, Illinois. Eleonora and the Hrvatski Pomladak performed live for an hour each Sunday morning. Through this broadcast, Ivan Sr. also gave other talented youngsters in the area a chance to appear on the programs.
Eleonora went on to play the violin and organ and studied piano at the Boeddeker Conservatory of Music. While in high school, she taught piano and dancing at Wesley House Community Center to children less fortunate who could not afford lessons. Vocal training was under the direction of Carrie Deal Kemper, one of the finest voice teachers in the area, and Eleonora went on to sing in concert with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra.
In 1942, the entire Lusicic family became charter members of the Vila Singing Society of the Croatian Sokol Dalmacija. Ivan Sr. was made Musical Director and Eleonora its pianist. Performances were concert style for many years and gradually evolved into musical shows, a style later copied by the other singing societies. With Vila, she not only played but also sang, built and painted scenery, and sewed costumes. When her father died in 1964, she was asked to assume the position of Musical Director as well as pianist.
The Croatian Junior Tamburitzans were restarted at the home of Ivan and Anna in 1961 with children of the original Hrvatski Pomladak. Eleonora assisted her parents in teaching these young people the basics of music, using the Jankovich system of tambura. Since most had no musical knowledge at all, she wrote a simple to understand basic music instruction booklet to help them learn quicker. In 1964, when Ivan died, his wife Ann took over as Manager and Eleonora became Musical Director. When it became apparent to her that most of the Tamburasi were using the Sremski system, she switched the entire group over. To make the transition easier, she compiled another instruction book which has been used successfully by her and adopted by many other instructors in teaching their junior groups. Since there were many waiting to learn the Tambura, she also gave private lessons so that the young tamburasi could be assimilated into the group quicker. Soon she was teaching three nights a week.
Over 300 young people have been through the group over the past 20 years, and they have traveled with the CJT all over the country, participating in all but a few CFU Junior Cultural Tamburitza Festivals and also a three-week concert tour of Yugoslavia. They have recorded three record albums, all of which have gone into second pressings and feature some of the 1981 Tamburitza Extravaganza participants, such as John Mudro, Frank Jovanovic, Mike Katich, Dave Dopuch, Matt Klaric, Ken Ban, Anton Mayer, John Mayer, and Stanley Mayer. Many others have gone on to further their musical education in various universities and colleges and are now teaching here and on the West Coast.
Return to Hall of Fame Membership List