Dr. Eloise Lorraine Harriss-Teas died peacefully on Sept. 4, 2021 in Plano, with her children at her side, after a 12-year fight against dementia.
Eloise was born in El Campo on Aug. 18, 1927, to Walter William and Mattie Mae (Grace) Harriss, the sixth of seven children. She earned her registered nursing degree in 1948 at Incarnate Word College, Santa Rosa Division of Nursing, in San Antonio as a student in the U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps. She earned undergraduate and graduate degrees from The University of Texas at Austin, her Ph.D. in Education from the University of Arkansas and her master’s degree in nursing from the University of Central Arkansas. She worked as a nurse at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Washington, D.C, and in many other settings. Eloise taught as an elementary school teacher with a concentration in special education and as a university professor mentoring graduate students in special education. As an inspector of nursing homes and psychiatric facilities, she protected vulnerable Texans from exploitation and abuse. In this role, she led an investigation that prevented drug abuse by breaking up a prescription mill.
Eloise lived the ethics of Unitarianism every day. She was tireless in caring for those in need, and fierce in her passion for social justice. Eloise cared for her cousin dying of cancer, taking charge of the household so that she could spend her last days in comfort and dignity. She protected her sister from elder abuse so that she would have a place to live. At the age of 79, for an entire week she sat up every night with her son as he recovered in surgical ICU.
She directed her anger at the Vietnam War into meticulous, grassroots campaigning to elect antiwar delegates over two election cycles. Her tender heart reached out to rescue homeless dogs and cats.
Eloise married Donald Claude Teas (twice) and spent many wonderful years of life with him in Austin before he preceded her in death. Eloise was an active member of the Wildflower Church (Unitarian Universalist) in Austin, enjoyed volunteering with the League of Women Voters, and loved singing with her church and community choirs. She was an animal lover, caring for many dogs and cats over the years (mostly dogs), and she had a green thumb, with myriad roses and peach trees and honeysuckle vines spread throughout her gardens.
She will be deeply missed. Her last words for her family this July, during a time when she said very few words, were “I love you.”
She is survived by her loving children, Bryan Jones and wife Lee, Meghan MacRae, and Alyson Thompson and husband Kurt; six grandchildren; two great-grandchildren; and several nieces and nephews.
She was preceded in death by her former husband, Joe Harrell Jones, the father of her children and her partner for many years, as well as her brothers, Robert, Hugh and Ben and her sisters, Mary Helen, Frances and Jane.
The family thanks the caregivers at Silverado Onion Creek, Silverado Turtle Creek, and The Auberge in Plano, with special thanks to Shannon, Mitzy, Nora and Chaplain Mike with Silverado Hospice for their excellent care of Eloise in her last days.
The family will hold a memorial service in Austin this fall.
Charitable contributions in Eloise’s name will be welcome for the SPCA of Texas or Wildflower Church in Austin.