Longtime area resident and Maricopa pioneer Eloise Chance passed away May 8, 2018, at Banner Desert Medical Center in Mesa. Mrs. Chance was born Dec. 14, 1928, in Locust Grove, Oklahoma.
She is preceded in death by her husband, Charles E. Chance, and a son, C. Richard Chance, and is survived by three daughters, Carol Kennedy, Susan Rubel, Cindy Sizemore and a son, Michael Chance. She is also survived by 12 grandchildren, 25 great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren. Mrs. Chance was a graduate of Chandler High School, Class of 1946, where she edited the first post-war school yearbook.
Mrs. Chance, then Eloise Hadley, met her future husband, Charles E. Chance, while he was stationed near the family farm at Williams Air Force Base in east Mesa. A couple of years after marrying, the couple moved to Maricopa in 1952 to manage a farm owned by her father, David L. Hadley. Eloise and Charles were instrumental in forming the first church congregation in Maricopa, First Baptist Church of Maricopa. Its initial building was dedicated in 1954 and replaced a mesquite tree the congregation had assembled beneath in prior years.
Mrs. Chance received her degree in education from Arizona State University after the birth of her fifth child. In 1961, Mrs. Chance was elected to the Maricopa Unified School District Board of Education, becoming the school’s first female board member.
In the 1960s, Mrs. Chance was hired by the Ak-Chin Indian Community as a teacher/administrator. Mrs. Chance wrote a successful proposal under the federal Johnson-O’Malley program, resulting in the construction and completion of the Community’s first modern educational facility. It was commonplace for Mrs. Chance and her staff to produce kindergarteners who read at third and fourth grade proficiency levels – attracting the attention of professors at ASU, who studied the school, its methods and its ongoing progress. The school also became the subject of a Hollywood-produced documentary.
Mrs. Chance later taught fifth grade, third grade and kindergarten at Maricopa Elementary School. Health problems prompted her retirement in the mid-1980s. Mrs. Chance later exited retirement to become Chief Financial Officer for her son Richard’s business, Empire Glass Companies. She performed this function for several years before retiring for good in 2002.
Mrs. Chance spent her golden years enjoying her favorite activities of reading, politics, and keeping up with her loved ones.
Visitation will be Friday, May 18, 5-8 p.m. at J. Warren Funeral Services, 525 N. Peart Road, Casa Grande AZ 85122.
A Celebration of Life service will be held Saturday, May 19, 10 a.m. at First Assembly of God, 501 E. Kortsen Road, Casa Grande AZ 85122. Interment will follow at Valley of the Sun Cemetery, 10940 E Chandler Heights Road, Chandler AZ 85248.
Eloise Chance is the grandmother of InMaricopa reporter Michelle Chance.