Ellen May Heatlie died April 6, 2023. She was 87.
Ellen was born on Jan. 22, 1936, in Chico, Calif., the nearest hospital to Orland, Calif., where the family was located. Her parents Althea and William Heatlie, along with older sister almost 4-year-old Wilma, awaited her arrival. Family nicknames for the girls were often called Pete for Ellen, Billie for Wilma, the source remains a mystery to them.
Ellen’s growing-up years were marked by the family moves on average every two years with her father’s occupation as a mechanical engineer working with dairy farmers in the use of the equipment for pasteurizing milk. In the early years the moves were in small towns in the San Joaquin Valley, then Burlingame, San Francisco. The first big move out of state was to the college town of Appleton, Wisc., for three years. All the while the girls were always adjusting to new schools, new friends and new experiences.
The next move took the family to Caracas, Venezuela, South America! Spanish was spoken as English had not yet become universal. This assignment came as a result of an assignment to the Rockefeller Foundation to encourage farmers to not go to the oil fields in Maracaibo but remain on the farm and raise their cows to produce milk. Adapting to a new culture, learning a new language, living with many Europeans, attending a Presbyterian mission school with her classes in Spanish, was an overwhelmingly rich experience.
She spent a year in a private school in San Marcos, Texas. It was an experience that she very much enjoyed. A return to California, the next destination Yokohama, Japan, for a couple of years and then Hawaii.
She married in her early 20s and raised five children — Michael, Gabrielle, Circe, Vance and Colleen, all now adults with families of their own. She spent 19 years as a dispatcher for the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department. After her retirement as a dispatcher, she lived in Arkansas where she was a court clerk. Thereafter she moved to Big Bar, Calif., and then to Weaverville.
While living in Weaverville she pursued her lifelong love of painting and became a member of the art community, spending her days painting to her heart’s content, making beautiful jewelry, crocheting and enjoying the small-town atmosphere and comradery. She spent the last five years of her life in Santa Rosa, Calif., with her daughter Circe who cared for her. She had such a love and passion for animals. In her honor, family members donated to nonprofit animal rescues in her name.
She is survived by her sister Wilma, her children, nine grandchildren (two whom preceded her in death), six great-grandchildren, and many friends dear to her heart.
I miss you so much mom. Happy Mother’s Day. Love Circe.
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