Eloise Duffy Liddicoat

ANN ARBOR — Eloise Duffy Liddicoat, who grew up as a motherless child during the Great Depression, became the stalwart mother of five and lived a life filled with adventure, good fortune and occasional tragedy. She died August 29, 2020, at her home and with family in Ann Arbor. She was 94.

A native of Rochester, New York, Mrs. Liddicoat at various times also lived in Oakland and Keweenaw County, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia and London, England. Her passions were many – preservation of culture and history, travel, the reproductive rights of women – paired with an authentic curiosity about the human condition and tempered by a lively sense of humor. Yet her life was anchored by an unwavering devotion to her family.

Mrs. Liddicoat was born December 3, 1925, the second and unexpected child of Lee and Catherine Duffy of Churchville, New York. Her mother died before her sixth birthday and she was raised by an older sister and large, extended family.

In 1944, she enrolled at the University of Rochester, graduating three years later with honors in English Literature in a WWII-accelerated program. It was there she met her first husband and the father or her children, John W. Bell, and with whom she moved to Ann Arbor when he enrolled in law school. She raised her children in an idyllic country setting outside Clarkston. And she kept the family together, in slightly less idyllic circumstances, when her marriage ended.

Seven years later, she connected with the true love of her life, a former Ann Arbor acquaintance and lifelong bachelor, William Liddicoat. They were married in 1972.

With Mr. Liddicoat, she lived for a decade in Saudi Arabia, where he worked as a geologist. In retirement, the couple returned to Michigan, and, in the late 1980s, purchased a home in his family’s ancestral land in Keweenaw County. The Liddicoats became vigorous proponents for the historical preservation of Central Mine, a thriving 19th century copper mining center that was a virtual ghost town by the time they moved there in the late 20th.

Sadly, Mr. Liddicoat passed away in 1998, but his widow stayed on as Central Mine became a heritage site affiliated with the Keweenaw National Historical Park. Her life was struck by tragedy again in 2004 when her youngest child, Nick Bell, also a resident of Central Mine, was killed in a cycling accident nearby. A grandson, Richard Bell, of Clarkston, also died in 2013.

Beset by failing physical health but still mentally vigorous, Mrs. Liddicoat returned to Ann Arbor in her final years, once again becoming a supporter of local cultural heritage as a volunteer at the Kempf House.

Throughout her life, Mrs. Liddicoat loved travel and natural wonders, especially Niagara Falls, and the annual VanDevort family reunions she had attended since childhood in upstate New York.

She was intensely interested in the lives of other people, including the friends of her children, and made friends of her own wherever she went. To her children, she was a self made woman of great courage and wisdom, who ensured their physical and emotional security even when she didn’t have much of her own. She will be forever missed by those left behind.

In addition to her youngest son, grandchild and late husband, Mrs. Liddicoat was predeceased by her parents; and sister Hazel Root, of Mumford, New York.

She is survived by her children, Leslie (Kurt) Maslowski, of Ocala, Florida, Dawson (Connie) Bell, of Mason, Zac (Corena) Bell, of Clarkston, Hilary (Dave) White, of Holland Ohio; Nick’s widow, Theresa Rekawek, of Central Mine; ten grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren. Also by her friend of 70+ years with whom she shared a birthday, Charlotte Sallade, of Ann Arbor.

No services are planned at this time. Those wishing to make memorial contributions in her honor, may do so to the Keweenaw County Historical Society, Planned Parenthood or a charitable organization of choice.