Soprano Eleanor Steber died on October 3, 1990, at age 76. The Wheeling native attended the New England Conservatory of Music, studied voice in New York City, and joined the Metropolitan Opera radio in 1940. That year, her hometown honored her by proclaiming Eleanor Steber Day in Wheeling. The celebration featured a special Baltimore & Ohio railroad car named for her and a homecoming concert, attended by Governor Homer Holt.
In addition to her opera career, Steber performed for USO shows, for bond drives, and at veterans’ hospitals during World War II. She also sang at national political conventions and was a regular on The Voice of Firestone, which aired on radio and later television. In 1948, she commissioned and premiered Samuel Barber’s opera Knoxville: Summer of 1915. A decade later, she created and recorded the title role in Barber’s opera Vanessa.
She stayed with the Metropolitan Opera until the 1960s and made more than 100 recordings. She also returned periodically to West Virginia for recitals and concerts with the Wheeling Symphony. Eleanor Steber was inducted into the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame in 2013.