Elinor Frances (Elinor) Harland – Mrs. Peter Gordon b.20 July 1920 m. 1 September 1970
d.11 June 1987, Monthodon, France
Elinor Harland undertook secretarial training and joined the Australian Diplomatic
Service. She became the personal secretary of Ambassadors in several different stations
including Manila - Philippines, Washington DC, Malawi, New Delhi - India and Nairobi
- Kenya. Amongst her many responsibilities was planning embassy parties, which
she enjoyed and for which she was well suited because of her warm personality.
She had had to have a mastectomy for breast cancer quite early, and this had probably
discouraged her from marriage; but at the age of 50 she married Peter Gordon. He
was a Scot who worked with the World Health Organisation and he met Elinor during
his travels in Africa. They had a wonderfully warm relationship. They chose to be
married in Lech, in the high Alps of Austria, and then set up home in rural France,
when both of them took instant early retirement.
Their spoken French was very distinctive – she spoke with a broad Australian accent,
while his native Scots unmistakably affected his French. They picked out an out-of-the-way
village, Monthodon, near the Loire Valley, as their home. Despite being obvious
‘incomers’, the villagers made them very welcome. Peter had been a fine soccer player
in his youth, and became the President of the Monthodon football club - a village
team of little distinction!
They rented Le Vieux Presbytere; it was a charming home, with roses covering the
front door, a butcher who came to the door with fresh cuts of meat each week, and
a boulangerie just down the road. Peter and Elinor enjoyed introducing visitors to
the joys of the Loire valley, which includes many beautiful chateaux as well as Michelin
starred restaurants. They welcomed several different sections of the family to stay
at Le Vieux Presbytere, with meals prepared with French flair by Elinor.
One of their many kindnesses was to come to Hillside in 1987 and look after an ailing
Aunt Elinor, while Uncle Arthur took a break in his beloved London. Elinor, who
had, of course, been named after her aunt, had already developed metastatic disease,
and died within a few weeks of returning to France. When Elinor died, Peter re-married
an old friend of theirs who had also been widowed quite recently. He went to live
in St. Jean de Luz, near the Spanish border - but cut off all his connections with
the Harland clan at that point - we know not why.