Norva Eloise (Middaugh) Clevenger was born on November 25, 1943, to Norville Clifford and Mary Louise (Hillebrand) Middaugh. A Thanksgiving baby, she was the first cesarean-section baby to be born in the Clinton, Missouri hospital.
Eloise attended elementary school in Urich, where she was involved in her church and community, and active in 4-H. Her family moved to Independence when she was in junior high school.
Eloise was part of William Chrisman’s largest graduating class, and she was one of six students (out of 520) selected for the National Art Honor Society all four years of high school.
Eloise enjoyed school and aspired to develop her artistic skills. She was thrilled to receive a scholarship to Central Missouri State University in Warrensburg. It was there that she met the love of her life, Cla Clevenger. They married during their sophomore year in March 1963, and made happy memories together as they worked their way through college.
Eloise earned her Bachelor of Science in Art Education and Commercial Art. Her early professional career included working as a color plate artist for Hallmark Cards and for Parkhurst Manufacturing Company. Cla and Eloise moved to Houston, Texas in 1965, where they worked for NASA as a software engineer and a graphic artist, respectively.
After several miscarriages, Eloise was overjoyed to become a mother to Shara Lynette (July 1969) and Alisa Nicole (August 1972). She devoted herself to raising her girls in a creative, nurturing, Christ-filled home. Eloise shared that the most rewarding thing she ever achieved was watching the accomplishments of her daughters.
Eloise held life-time teaching certificates in Texas and Missouri. She believed that every teacher had the obligation to truly care for each child. When she paused her teaching career to raise her girls, she continued to find ways to use her artistic skills, running an afterschool art club at her daughters’ elementary school.
Eloise was accomplished at hand lettering, silk screening, painting, print making, photography, stenciling, pottery and graphic design. She served as a freelance artist for charitable organizations. Eloise used her artistic gifts to inspire fun and play, and to create and celebrate community.
She launched her own product line in 1974. Reflecting on her life, Eloise remembers how proud (and scared!) she was when she travelled to California to market her creations at the Christian Booksellers Convention. “Dough’s Critters by Eloise” were sold at Christian bookshops and Hallmark stores across the country.
In 1984, Eloise supported her daughters as they founded Prancing Panther Cubs, which became CheerBringers of America. This successful youth program used cheerleading and dance to build self-esteem and teamwork. The Clevenger family treasures memories made with thousands of young people and their families, as they trained weekly, and performed at parades and community events. The program was expanded to include older adults at Foxwood Springs Living Center. The Senior CheerBringers accompanied the youth in local parades and festivals.
In 1997, Cla and Eloise purchased Dolly Arden’s Dance Studio and BelRay Gymnastics Center. Together, they transformed it into Talent Central. Eloise lovingly painted murals on the walls of the KinderGym and created study space for homework between dance classes. Alisa expanded the program to provide cheerleaders for the Kansas City Royals and the Kansas City Attack professional soccer team. The depth and breadth of this community building work continues to inspire and connect people today. The children who grew up in the Clevenger’s outreach programs were each dear to Eloise, and she was always touched when “her kids” would reach out to let the family know the powerful impact they made on their childhoods.
Eloise showed love by being there for people. She strived to love without judgment. Her grandchildren attest to this and know that their grandparents’ home is a place where everyone is safe and welcomed. The tables at Thanksgiving dinners spanned multiple rooms, and always welcomed last minute additions to the guestlist.
Her eldest grandchildren, Crichelle and Joel, grew up in England. Grandchildren Kaydrin and Matthew were closer to home in Raymore. All four grandchildren share precious memories of their time together. Eloise found meaningful ways to celebrate her grandchildren’s interests and hobbies. She made a point of knowing the names of all their friends and created thousands of personalized “bag tags” for their sports teams, events, and communities.
Eloise moved to Foxwood Springs to recover from a stroke in March 2023. If she couldn’t be at home with Cla, Foxwood was the next best place to be. Eloise enjoyed the Foxwood activities and nature spots, dinners with her family in the puzzle room, and shopping in Foxwood’s craft store, thrift store and bargain barn. She was proud of her family’s connection to this special community. Eloise’s daughters both worked at Foxwood Springs between 1989-1993; Alisa served in the Landis Child Development Center, and Shara pioneered the Intergenerational Academy. Always supporting her girls, Eloise designed the shirts for the Intergenerational Academy, which was attended by children from 14 different states. The family is grateful for Foxwood’s incredible care team, who truly treat residents as if they are their own family. In addition, the Missouri Palliative Care and Hospice team alleviated pain, increased comfort, and improved Eloise’s quality of life, allowing the family to enjoy more time together.
Through her work as an art teacher, Dough’s Critter businesswoman, CheerBringer administrator, Talent Central coordinator, Ascension Eagles international supporter, sports team bag tag maker, and adopted Grandma to all her grandchildren’s friends, Eloise impacted thousands of lives. The family encourage everyone impacted and inspired by Eloise to keep sharing her creative, welcoming, joy-filled legacy of love as you make this world a more beautiful place.
Eloise was preceded in death by her parents, Norville Clifford (1914-1980) and Mary Louise Middaugh (1920-1993), sister Carolynn Kay Middaugh (1949-1953) and brother Christopher Anthony Middaugh (1956-2009).
Her survivors will continue fulfilling her legacy of love, and include her husband of sixty years, Claton Franklin Clevenger, Jr; children Shara (Jonathan) and Alisa (Todd); grandchildren Crichelle (Emma), Joel (Jaymie), Kaydrin and Matthew; great-grandchildren Jack and Jay; sisters-in-law Jody, Beverly Ann (Donny) and Mary Lou (Barry), brother-in-law Bill (Marie); nephews and nieces Clinton (Jessie), Brent (Danielle) and Megan, Kevin (Brenda), Kim (Larry), Suzan (Jay), Charlene (Scott) and Diane; as well as her cousins, great nephews and nieces, and a multitude of dearly loved CheerBringers and adopted grandchildren.
Eloise’s Celebration of Life was held Saturday, September 16th, at Holmes Hall, Foxwood Springs, Raymore.
In lieu of flowers, donations are requested to the Eloise Memorial Fund (Venmo @Eloise-Clevenger) or maybe sent in care of the funeral home.
Online condolences may be sent to the family at www.StanleyEdenburn.com
Arrangements: Stanley-Edenburn Funeral Home, 203 N. Armstrong St., Pleasant Hill, Missouri 64080