Remembering Ellen

Thirty-nine years ago today on a Sunday in El Paso, Texas I married Ellen Lee. To honor the occasion I thought that I would share the eulogy I gave sixteen years ago at her funeral.

How do I begin to tell the story of my 23 year love affair with Ellen? I'll start by saying that from our very first meeting I knew that Ellen was special. Being around her was like being around someone filled with joy. She has always, first and foremost, been my best friend ... my closest confidant ... someone from whom I drew great strength. I miss her.

Let me tell you about her. Ellen was born in St. Augustine, Florida on November 27th, 1950 to Jack and Anneliese Lee. Her dad was an Army Master Sergeant and when she was five he was assigned to Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas. She graduated from High School in 1969 and became a licensed beautician shortly after. She had three close friends growing up -- Pam, Rene' and Peggy.

Ellen and I met at a club on the base February 6th, 1971 while I was serving in the Army. Our courtship lasted only four months -- we would have celebrated our 23rd wedding anniversary on June 6th. Our journey took us from El Paso to Kansas City via New York / New Jersey for three years and Houston, Texas for a year and a half. We came to the Kansas City area in 1976. We lived in Olathe for 8 years and have lived in Lenexa for the last 9 years.

Over the years Ellen's interests ranged from ceramics, quilting, sewing, gardening and several other craft type hobbies. Her greatest joy however was being a mom -- all the crafts took a backseat to her children -- Ellen took parenting seriously -- she was always reading and studying on how to be a better Mom. Our two children - Matthew, who will be 14 in July, and Susanna who will be 10 in August, are a testimony to her diligence.

Ellen had a deep love for the scripture and had read the bible through in 4 different translations. Ellen was God's vessel in my own conversion experience -- she wouldn't let me be comfortable with a dead faith -- she challenged me. I still remember a conversation that we had one night in our living room in Houston - it changed me forever. We were talking about spiritual things and I was giving Ellen the run-around ... I would say things like I believe what the Episcopalians believe ... She asked me point blank -- do you believe in bible .. I said "of course I do - all Episcopalians believe in the bible". She then asked if I believed in evolution - I responded that all intelligent people believed in evolution ... well I wasn't ready for her reply. She said " then you don't believe in the bible". I had no response. I had never read the bible and I had no idea what it said. Her reply sent me into a period of real evaluation of my life and six months later I committed my life to Christ.

Let me tell you of her endurance. I have seen Ellen blinded for three years by retinal hemorhaging, hospitalized for weeks on end, weakened for four years from heart and kidney failure -- yet filled with God's joy. When I visited Ellen in the hospital to "Cheer her up" - it seemed that I was the one that came away feeling better -- I could cite testimony on testimony from her hospital nurses of how she endured suffering with much dignity. Though I knew she was in pain much of our married life -- Ellen never complained. She is and ever will be a testimony of enduring faith ... a trophy of His mercy, grace and love.

While Ellen triumphed in suffering, I was not always so triumphant. My frustrations with her situation were usually vented in prayer. Several days before she passed on I was in such a prayer session -- I was asking the Lord why Ellen had to go through all the pain that she was experiencing during this last hospitalization. His answer surprised me - for I no sooner said the word "Why?" and my mind was flooded with a picture of a golden crown ... filled with rubies, emeralds and diamonds.

I think that the Lord was showing me that Ellen was a jewel in His crown -- an emerald of patience and endurance -- a diamond reflecting the radiance of His joy -- and a ruby of His love and compassion. She was on display for us all ... so that we could know the beauty of faith ... the warmth of love ... and the courage of someone who faced adversity and beat it! I am thankful to have had the opportunity to have loved, and be loved by, my dear wife Ellen.


  1. Beautiful post! Thanks for sharing with us.

  2. That did my heart good, brother. Thank you for sharing this part of your life. Before you know it we will all be gathered around the Throne of Grace. This will seem like a shadow. God bless you, Bob.

  3. Through tears, I will just say, I want to meet Ellen when I get to heaven. Love and Hugs, Bob.

  4. What a wonderful testimony of God's keeping power. I read this through tears and like Wanda, I look forward to meeting Ellen too.
    Lots of hugs from me too.

  5. A deeply moving account of your love for this wonderful woman. God's blessings upon you.

  6. BTW I meant to add how beautiful she looks! What a wonderful combination to be beautiful on the inside and out!

  7. An amazing testament of beauty, warmth and courage. Thank you for sharing.

  8. Oh Bob, I cried during this. I think you are a jewel in God's crown too. He gave you to Ellen, then to Ann. Two wonderful women who have had more than their share of suffering in life and needed a husband with loving patience.

    What a doll too - such a pretty girl. I'd like to see you on your wedding day to her, come us a pic :)

  9. Thank you all for the sweet comments. Your words made the day a bit brighter.

  10. Ellen was a dear friend to me. Her unforgettable laughter and warm wide smile remains a blessing in my heart of shared and cherished childhood memories. I miss her, too, Bob.


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