Eleanor Culling bequest marks a musical legacy at Icicle Creek

The late Eleanor Culling, shown here with her bell-ringing colleague Karen Strom, left a gift of $288,000 to Icicle Creek Center for the Arts in support arts and arts education. (Photo submitted by Jamie Howell)


The late Eleanor Culling loved to sit in the front row, closest to the musicians, during classical concerts at Icicle Creek Center for the Arts. She found a way to remain close to the music even after her passing last April. 

Culling, a music educator, entrepreneur, photographer and world traveler, left a major bequest totaling $288,000 to Icicle Creek Center for the Arts, a non-profit arts education center in Leavenworth.

“Eleanor really enjoyed classical music,” said Icicle Creek co-founder Harriet Bullitt, who continues to spend time in the front row of many classical music performances. The two traveled together to New Zealand on one of Culling’s many trips. 

Another longtime friend, Karen Strom, who enjoyed accompanying Culling along parade routes around Washington during Culling’s reign as Royal Lady of the Autumn Leaves in 1996,   pointed to the sheer breadth of impact Culling had on music and the arts in Leavenworth. Culling, a former choral director, founded the Leavenworth Village Voices community choir immediately upon arriving in the area from Michigan in 1982, a group that, 35 years later, can still be heard every Christmas heralding the illumination of Front Street.

Culling also served as a director of the Marlin Handbell Ringers and a founding member of the Bavarian-themed town band Leavenworth Musikkapelle, all while running two retail businesses in the downtown core. 

But Icicle Creek Center for the Arts held a special place in Culling’s heart. “She was very enamored of Icicle Creek,” said Strom. “The whole program was important to her.”

“I think she knew that Icicle Creek loved her right back,” said Lisa Bergman, director of adult piano retreats at Icicle Creek, as well as a former executive director there. “And that was a relationship that meant everything to her.”

Two important projects are already underway at Icicle Creek as a result of Culling’s bequest - major critical repairs to two of the center’s concert grand pianos are being made as well as a renovation of the center’s eight cabins which house artists, students and guests on the property.

“Her passion and commitment to music was an inspiration to all of us,” said Icicle Creek Center for the Arts Board President Ken Hunnicutt. “She was a loyal and generous supporter whether as an audience member, volunteer or donor. We are enormously grateful for her very generous bequest which we will use in support of the music performance and education programs which she loved so much.”

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