In Memoriam Eileen Avrich
by Buz Whelan
On Tuesday, December 23, 2020 the Emerald Lakes community lost one of its most beloved members. After a long and valiant fight, Eileen Avrich left us, taking with her a piece of many of our hearts.
I feel a personal loss as Kathy and I have long considered Eileen and John good friends. We partied together, we dined together, we even went to concerts together. They were wonderful companions, whatever we might be doing. The conversation was always lively and filled with laughter.
Eileen was born in Brooklyn and raised mainly by her father, her mother having passed away when she was just five years old. She went to a Catholic boarding school until high school and then switched to public school. She had several jobs when her children were young that allowed her to spend time with them. She was a mini bus driver, she taught arts and crafts at a day camp and worked as a pharmaceutical tech at a local pharmacy in Centerport. She followed that up by working at a Target pharmacy in Stroudsburg before retiring in 2010.
Eileen met her future husband John while both were working at Singer Sewing. They married on Earth Day, April 22, 1972. The young couple honeymooned at the Summit, back when the Poconos were the honeymoon capitol. According to Eileen’s daughter Denise, the honeymooning couple had a rifle shooting contest which Eileen won in spite of the fact that John was a military veteran.
Denise provided more details. Eileen was always crafty and enjoyed cooking and baking as well. One friend nicknamed her Martha because of her expertise. She loved clearance sales and would come home with unneeded items like holiday plates and napkins, cleaners, beauty items, knives, home decor and even a karaoke player. They seemed like a waste, until one day when they were needed.
Prior to moving to Emerald Lakes, the family lived on Long Island and were active in a bowling organization that ran tournaments and such events. Denise said she was almost raised in a bowling alley. The family also went to the Finger Lakes where there was a big wine party for relatives, a party that grew from year to year with the expanding extended family.
Eileen was a volunteer. Anything she could contribute to, there she was. If you needed help planning or running an event, you could always count on Eileen. She was active with the Women’s Club, the 50+ Club and served on multiple committees after moving to Emerald Lakes in 1998. Right up until the time she became too ill, she served as the chairperson of the Appeals Committee. She wasn’t reluctant to volunteer her family as well, getting her husband to play Santa and her daughter to play the Easter Bunny. BTW, outside the community she was active with the Monroe County League of Women Voters.
Eileen was a proper lady…almost all the time. I remember one night at a party at my house, we were playing a risque adult game supplied by Lola Lauri, Cards Against Humanity. Eileen drew a card and blurted out a term so naughty I can’t write it here. It was so out of character that the room erupted in gales of laughter. Eileen just sat there with a ‘What?’ look on her face.
Denise tells me that Eileen was as selfless at home as she was with friends and colleagues. What you saw was who she was. She loved anything Irish, including Irish music, especially if bagpipes were involved. And while she wasn’t a huge drinker, she did enjoy a good hard cider and Lambic’s Framboise.
There was only one Eileen Avrich (nee Hurley), and I doubt I’ll meet her likes ever again. She will be sorely missed.
(Note: A huge thank you to Eileen’s daughter Denise Avrich Stowers who provided much of the personal background material for this article.)