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Eleanora L. Cheney, an educator and a philanthropist in South Jersey, dies at 97

Mrs. Cheney didn't begin teaching until age 40, but loved it. By all accounts, her former students loved her, too. They would call out greetings when she went out in public.

Eleanora L. Cheney
Eleanora L. CheneyRead moreCourtesy of the Cheney Family

Eleanora L. Cheney, 97, of Marlton, formerly of Haddonfield, an educator and a philanthropist, died Thursday, Nov. 12, of renal failure at her home.

Born in Seneca Falls, N.Y., to Guy Darrell and Alice Augusta McCoy Stevenson, she graduated from Mynderse Academy there and from Rutgers University-Camden in 1966 with a bachelor’s degree in secondary education.

Known as “Ellie,” she was hired at Lenape Regional High School District by Superintendent of Schools K. Kiki Konstantinos to teach freshman English.

In 1971, after earning a master’s degree in student personnel services from Glassboro State College, now Rowan University, Mrs. Cheney chose to move with 30 other staff members to the then-new Shawnee High School, where she taught 10th-grade honors English.

“She really liked teaching English, and her students must have liked her,” said her daughter Patricia Walter. “I used to go shopping with her at the Cherry Hill Mall and we would hear, ‘Mrs. Cheney, Mrs. Cheney.’”

Later, Mrs. Cheney became a Shawnee guidance counselor. She retired in 1988.

Mrs. Cheney was a cofounder and trustee of the Danellie Foundation, which served the less fortunate from 1989 until 2014, when it gave away all its money and closed. She was a partner in the foundation with her husband, Daniel Cheney, whom she married in 1959.

The private nonprofit dispensed grants to Christian organizations focused on health, youth, education, employment, and other human services. Most grants ranged from $10,000 to $30,000, according to the group’s mission statement. The recipient organizations were in South Jersey, the Philadelphia area, and Baltimore.

Once she retired, Mrs. Cheney became the owner of Another World of Travel, a travel business in Marlton, and ran it for several years.

Mrs. Cheney and her husband established a scholarship at Cherry Hill West High School in memory of her son, Jon W. Dinsmore, who died of a brain tumor at age 49 during the blizzard of early January 1996.

Mrs. Cheney was a 60-year member of Haddonfield United Methodist Church, where she was a member of the adult Sunday school class and an administrative counselor from 1996 to 1999. She served on the boards of directors of the Neighborhood House and also Fellowship House in Camden from 1995 to 2000. Both provide services to children.

Mrs. Cheney’s hobbies were skiing, sailing, traveling, reading historical fiction, and listening to classical music. In her spare time, Mrs. Cheney could be found doing activities with her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She enjoyed vacationing at her co-op unit in Naples, Fla., and her summer house in Maine.

Her first husband was John Dinsmore. He died many years ago.

Her second husband, Daniel, the publisher of Nursing magazine, died in 2016. A daughter, Nancy Dinsmore, died in 2018. Besides her daughter Patricia, she is survived by nine grandchildren, 25 great-grandchildren, and four great-great-grandchildren.

A viewing will be from 10 to 11:45 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 21, in the sanctuary of the Haddonfield United Methodist Church, 29 Warwick Rd., Haddonfield, N.J. 08033. The funeral will start at noon. Masks must be worn inside the church and social distancing observed. Burial is private.

Those attending the service may check Kain-Murphy Funeral Services' website,, for word of any new restrictions on public gatherings that could be issued by New Jersey or local officials due to the coronavirus.

Contributions may be made to the Haddonfield United Methodist Church at the above address; the Neighborhood Center, 278 Kaighns Ave., Camden, N.J. 08103; or Fellowship House in Camden, c/o Community Foundation of South Jersey, P.O. Box 446, Haddonfield, N.J. 08033.