10/04/04 — OPINION -- Remarkable lady

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OPINION -- Remarkable lady

By Gene Price
Published in News on October 4, 2004 1:57 PM

"Her only paying job was as pianist for silent movies in downtown Goldsboro in the 1920s."

That was reported in last Thursday's obituary of Mrs. Virginia Earp Ellis.

While that might have been her only "paying job," Mrs. Ellis undoubtedly was a workaholic during most of her 99 years. After all, she birthed and raised 13 children, saw all of them through school and was active in the Parent-Teacher Association for 24 consecutive years.

She served St. Paul United Methodist Church as treasurer and program director and as secretary of the United Church Women.

Mrs. Ellis worked as a volunteer with Wayne Memorial Hospital and with such activities as the Empty Stocking Fund and Christmas parties at O'Berry Center.

She was a member of Goldsboro Woman's Club and played the piano for numerous organizations and functions.

As her "stair-stepped" children paraded toward and into their teens, she served as a leader in the Cub Scouts, Brownies, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts.

The Ellis family lived in a one-story bungalow that stills stands on Slocumb Street. How was it possible to sleep and feed 13 kids? "You learned to get there early," one of them quipped recently.

At the funeral, the Rev. Robert L. Bame recalled that when Mrs. Ellis played the piano each Sunday, all her children sat quietly, side by side, on one of the front pews: "They were never fussy or fidgety."

The good manners and conduct of her children extended far beyond the Sunday morning services. They guided them all the years thereafter.

Jimmy Ellis, now retired as a distinguished professor of journalism at the University of Nevada, shared this story with friends. "Mama was asked many years ago about how one looks after 13 children. Her response was, 'You love then, you teach them, and you trust them. You can't go everywhere with them.'"

But to those of us who have known the Ellis "children," it is obvious that the influence of Virginia Ellis has been with them -- every step of the way, throughout their lives.

Among her survivors are eight of her 13 children, 40 grandchildren, 58 great-grandchildren and eight great-great grandchildren.

What a great heritage they have!