ST. ALBANS — Ellen Weir Chamberlin, age 101, passed away on March 30, 2017, at Franklin County Rehab Center in St. Albans, Vt.. She was born April 18, 1915 to Jean and Gertrude Weir in Chattanooga Tenn. and grew up in Erie, Pa.
She will be dearly missed by her family: daughter, Gail Salzman and husband Al (Fairfield, Vt.), son John Chamberlin and wife Marty (Denver, Colo.), son Stephen Chamberlin and wife Gerry (Cedar Falls, Iowa); sister Deedee Ramsey (New Sharon, Maine); grandchildren Jonah and Eli Salzman (and partner, Liina Tael), Zoe Chamberlin (and husband Coury Coates), Jennie Chamberlin (and partner Jess Firestone), Jeff Chamberlin (and partner Melissa Gowdy) and Livia Chamberlin, and great-granddaughter Eliot Coates, as well as many beloved nieces and nephews. She was predeceased by her husband, John, and her sister, Mary Len Runser.
Ellen lived a full and active life. She graduated from Wilson College in Chambersburg, Pa. where she majored in Biology. One of the enduring legacies of Ellen’s years at Wilson was the intimate group of classmates, known as “The Old College Chums,” who became lifetime friends and, with their growing families, saw each other for over seventy years to reminisce, play bridge and sing close harmony.
After college, she worked in New York City, where she met her future husband, John H. Chamberlin. They married in 1939, and, after the war, moved to Syracuse, N.Y., John’s hometown, where they raised their three children.
Although Ellen was, first and foremost, a mother and housewife, she was also a social activist. She served as a volunteer with disabled adults, advocated for civil rights, and headed the Syracuse branch of Planned Parenthood. In the 60’s, she went back to work, as a medical research assistant at Syracuse University, and later, as deputy administrator of alumni affairs at Cazenovia College.
She had a wide range of interests. Bridge was a passion, as was music, especially opera. For decades she sang in the choir at May Memorial Unitarian Church. But, above all, Ellen was a word person. She wrote witty celebratory poems and graceful reminiscences. She was an avid reader and patron of the Cazenovia, N.Y. public library, where, as Board President, she led a major expansion of library facilities.
In 2008, Ellen moved to Vermont to be near her daughter, Gail, and family, first to the Converse Home in Burlington, then, in 2011, to the Franklin County Rehab Center, where music, flowers, dancing toys, adoring staff and chocolate ice cream were her constant companions.
Her family cherishes the loving care she received at the Converse Home, and especially at the Rehab Center in her final six years.
A celebration of Ellen’s life will be held in St. Albans at a future date.
Expressions of condolence to be shared with Ellen’s family may be sent by visiting the Heald Funeral Home on line guest book at www.healdfuneralhome.com.