Barbara Phillips Ellis, 87, of Greeley, Colorado, died peacefully, surrounded by family, on November 4, 2019. She was born on January 16, 1932, in Larned, Kansas, to Warren Purslow and Eloise (Heaton) Phillips.
Barbara graduated from Larned High School in 1950, along with twelve other graduates who had started Kindergarten together and graduated together. She began playing piano at the age of 3, and later studied music at Colorado Women’s College in Denver. She then entered the Creighton University St. Joseph’s Hospital School of Nursing, and became certified as a Registered Nurse in 1954. Barbara studied further at Creighton’s School of Anesthesia, graduating and becoming certified as a Registered Nurse Anesthetist in 1957.
She began work as a CRNA in 1958 in Hannibal, Missouri, where she met and eventually married Samuel Teel Ellis, Jr., M.D. The couple moved to Richmond, Virginia, which became the birthplace of their first three children.
Dr. Ellis transferred to Kansas City, Missouri, in 1962, and the couple lived then in Independence, Missouri. Their family grew to eight, with the birth of two more sons and a third daughter. In 1969, the family relocated to Lake City, Florida, where two more sons were added to the family.
Barbara was always involved with her children’s activities and school events, while she also started a Pilot Program within the schools for teaching job skills and everyday living skills to special education students. She later worked as Director of Nursing for two Florida nursing homes and at group homes for the mentally handicapped, geriatric and psychiatric clients. She worked for several years as Director of Nurses and Night Charge Nurse at Baker Correctional Institute near Olustee, Florida.
Still active and always on the move, Barbara retired to Estes Park, Colorado in 1987 and shortly thereafter to Greeley to be closer to her children and grandchildren. During this time she worked in the home healthcare field until her third and final retirement from the Weld County Area Agency on Aging in 2015. Barbara was a life-long seamstress and, in her precious bit of spare time, loved to make quilts, clothes, dolls and toys, and she enjoyed decorating birthday cakes and wedding cakes.
Barbara’s spirit is carried on proudly by her nine children, seventeen grandchildren, five great-grandchildren, two siblings, twelve nieces and nephews, and an extended family of relations and friends from every walk of life and every corner of the world. We were all blessed to have learned many, many valuable lessons during her 87 years from our friend, neighbor, caregiver, Momma, Granny, Grandma Barbara, Aunt B and Aunt Dearie, among them: It’s never too late to take down your Christmas tree; Save everything, because you never know when you might need a skein of orange rug yarn or some grocery coupons from 1986; Never throw away plastic silverware (it can be washed, you know); Keep the car keys under the front seat so they don’t get lost and, above all, “Use your head for something besides a hat rack.” Those of us who’ve taken her lessons to heart will continue to ensure that every baby will be rocked and kissed, every nursing home resident will be visited and comforted, and every guest will have a warm bed and a soft nightlight.
Barbara is survived by her children and grandchildren whose photos she would gladly share with anyone at anytime: Mary Pat McKenna, Phoenix AZ (Ed Skibbe, sons Matt Anderson, Colin Stevens and Ian Maxwell); Mary Pat Daviet, Greeley CO (Mark, son Thomas “T.J.”); Bill Ellis, Gulf Breeze FL (Sandy, son Sam, daughter Amanda); Sarah Ellis, Ft. Collins CO (daughter Leila); Rebecca Ellis, Windsor CO (Charlie O’Leary, sons Charles Murphy, Sam Ellis, daughter Mary Beth Goldman); Bob Ellis, Gulf Breeze FL (son Andre’, daughter Isabella); Tom Ellis, Chicago IL (Lynn, son Thomas, daughter Hannah); John Ellis, Evans CO (son Jesse); Edward “Mac” Ellis, Greeley CO (son Cameron, daughter Katie). She is also survived by sister and life-long best friend Sarah Lloyd of Loveland, CO; sister Joan Waldron of Ft. Collins, CO; niece and namesake Barbara Racette of Loveland, CO, and by many in-laws, nieces, nephews, friends and family too numerous to list but never forgotten.
Barbara was preceded by her husband and the love of her life, Dr. Sam T. Ellis; her parents; sister Patricia Mohn Nickels; special sister Katherine Stewart; brother Warren Wesley Phillips, nephew David Mohn, stepson Samuel T. Ellis, III; and stepdaughter Margaret Ann Ellis Dye.
We do our best not to cry because it’s over, but to smile at the blessing of our many years with her. We love you forever, our Momma and our Granny.
Visitation 9 a.m. Sunday, November 10 at Adamson Life Celebration Home followed by Life Celebration at 10 a.m. with a time of fellowship to follow. Interment will be held at Mount Washington Cemetery, Independence, MO. Memorial gifts may be made to “Pathways Hospice” or “Pitt Hopkins Research” in care of Adamson, 2000 47th Ave., Greeley, CO 80634. Friends may leave condolences at AdamsonCares.com.