‘All creatures great and small, the Lord and Eleanor loved them all’
By Eleanor Peavy (‘Little E’)
Eleanor Hume O’Rear Peavy, a devoted wife, mother, sister, cousin, friend, and animal lover, died January 11, 2023 after facing formidable health challenges. The odds were against her, but she fought fiercely and bravely for several months, never losing her sense of humor.
Eleanor’s husband Thom Peavy, and her daughter, Eleanor ‘Little E’ Peavy, fiercely supported her throughout her battle. Eleanor finally surrendered on her own terms, with Thom and ‘Little E’ at her side. At that moment, the world lost a most beautiful light.
Eleanor was born and raised on her family’s Versailles, Kentucky farm, Stoney Lonesome. She attended Frankfort Capitol Day Elementary School, The Lexington School and Ashley Hall Preparatory School in Charleston, SC. Eleanor was a graduate of Centre College and University of Camargo.
In 1973, she was presented as a debutante at the BlueGrass Charity Ball —always the southern belle and gracious hostess. Eleanor was also an artist, writer, and musician. She traded her 12-string guitar to acquire her beloved horse, Zachary.
For many years, Eleanor worked at Pedigree Associates in Lexington, Kentucky where she researched Thoroughbred racing and pedigrees. Using her knowledge of seven languages, she aided in the translations of many stud books and chart books.
In 1985, she moved to New York to work for The Jockey Club. There, she became a horse identifier for the New York Racing Association tracks. It was there that she was introduced to Thomas Byars Peavy. They were married on May 30, 1987 and settled near Saratoga Springs. Each year, Eleanor would post her anniversary as May 31, and Thom would need to correct her. It was here that they celebrated the birth of daughter ‘Little E.’
Eleanor and Thom relocated to Central Kentucky and established a horse transportation business. One could always find her, smiling, at the van desks at Keeneland and Fasig-Tipton. Eleanor was trusted to make arrangements for shipping thoroughbreds, worth millions of dollars, around the country.
Over the years, Eleanor and Thom — or as Thom would say, Eleanor — began acquiring animals. Eleanor always had at least one horse, and she could ride like the wind. Then, she discovered the world of border collies and sheepdog trials. She would wear a variety of big, distinctive, floppy-brimmed hats, which became her signature. She was an avid competitor in both the USA and Canada.
Eleanor and Thom’s ‘Our Ewenique Farm’ is home to several border collies, more than 70 sheep, horses, donkeys, cows, chickens, cats, a pig and guineafowl. Eleanor named all of her animals and wrote colorful stories about their lives and deaths in her popular Facebook posts. She knew which sheep was which, even if they were in the back field. All looked identical to the casual observer. She gave love and compassion to all the creatures in her life.
In the beginning, Thom opposed having animals in the house. After all, when they met, Thom swore he’d never marry again, would never move out of New York, would never allow animals in the house (especially cats!) and didn’t want children. Eleanor would sweetly state “we compromised.”
It wasn’t long before a baby lamb was found on his chest and a cat settled in his lap while he was reading in bed.
Perhaps God grew weary of herding the sheer number of Eleanor’s animals across the rainbow bridge. Therefore, he called her up to handle the situation.
In addition to her husband, daughter and menagerie, Eleanor left behind a multitude of broken hearted family members and dear friends from all over the world.There was always room for another creature or friend in her very large and generous heart. Eleanor’s heart of gold will be dearly missed, but we gain comfort in knowing that she lives on forever in the lives she touched.
Linda Radford wrote, “All creatures great and small, the Lord and Eleanor loved them all.”
Alyce Grover said, “Only Eleanor could handle a hat, staff, and sheep at the pen in a high wind. Loved those hats.”
Elissa Perry remembers, “Your mom always sent me home with farm eggs. I’ll certainly miss them now.”
Anita Britton recalls, “It was 1973 when a film called The Exorcist was released. My friends Margaret Lyle, Eleanor O’Rear and Eleanor’s brother all decided they wanted to see it. Me, not so much but I had access to a big car and I was the driving fool of the bunch. The women were all students at Centre and thought we were big kids. I had to drive the siblings to Stoney Lonesome and I have never been on a country road in the pitch black for so long in my life. Years later we would all laugh about our failed courage and how we were never going to do that again! What we did do was share a mutual friendship that endured for decades. I know there was a joyous, albeit raucous reunion on the other side and I am at peace knowing my dear friends are together again with all the beasts.”
Dee Allayne writes, “I believe the year was 1999, maybe 1998. I competed in Novice in my first herding trial, The Bluegrass Classic. I had been told what a famous trial this was, how all the ‘big hats’ would be there. I knew only two people there and found myself standing alone under the tent like a fish out of water. And then, I saw a smiling face coming toward me. “Hi! I’m Eleanor!” I am not sure if she was wearing one of her signature hats, but I like to think she was. We talked for quite a while, and a friendship was born.
“We were sisters in our love for all creatures. I watched how she cared for and respected every life, from sheep, to chickens, to dogs and cats and horses and everything in between. There are a lot of people in the dog trial world that think Eleanor and I are a bit batty for letting sheep live out their natural lives in our care. We can’t use them to train dogs, they cost us money and time. But Eleanor showed me the joy in caring for every life before I ever had sheep of my own. She is the only person I trust to look after my sheep and my will states that she will get them. I never considered that she would be gone before me.
“I can’t count how many times in the last 20 years my husband has looked at me and said, ‘OK Eleanor.’He says that when I am giving an old sheep meds because it is arthritic. He says that when I raise orphan lambs and goats in the house. He says that when I take in strays and rescues. While Jerry says this half in jest, he knows that, for me, there is no higher compliment than to be compared to Eleanor in how she gave love and compassion to all the creatures in her life. Every time I hear, ‘OK Eleanor,’ I know I am doing things right.
“I think it will be a great tribute to Eleanor if, every time we see someone being kind, we all say, ‘OK Eleanor,’ if not out loud, at least to ourselves. The world will be a better place if we all work to get some ‘OK Eleanors.’”
Feed My Sheep
By Little E
Jesus said: “Feed my sheep” (John 21:17) which is exactly what my momma would want, and say, for her animals to all be taken care of.
A celebration of life is planned for spring. In lieu of flowers, her family asks for contributions to fund the care of Eleanor’s many animals. Checks can be made out to Thom Peavy, with the memo written, “gift to Eleanor’s Animals.” Please mail to SKW CPA’s & Advisors 183 Walton Ave Lexington KY 40508.
This article also appears on pages 10-11 of the February 2023 print edition of Ace. To subscribe to digital delivery, click here.