Eleanor McGann Russell
December 9, 1926 – March 20, 2022
Our mom, Ellie, passed away very peacefully in her sleep to join Bob and her family and friends on the first day of spring, March 20, 2022, at the age of 95.
Mom’s life began on December 9, 1926 on the East Coast, in Poughkeepsie, New York, a place she still called home. She was the oldest of five children (predeceased siblings include Ava, Rosemary, Florence and George.) Her parents were George McGann Sr. and Eleanor Kennedy McGann. She attended school in Poughkeepsie, graduating from Poughkeepsie High School in 1944. In addition to living in New York, Ellie had lived more recently in the San Fernando Valley of California and McMinnville, Oregon before moving to Bend, Oregon.
Ellie learned to work hard at an early age. She worked alongside her mom in the family home, which eventually became a nursing home. She brought her work ethics into a variety of jobs, including that of switchboard operator for the New York Telephone Company, IBM, Hughes Aircraft and The Veteran’s Administration Hospital in Sepulveda, California. She knew how to make a dollar, and how to make a dollar stretch. She took in laundry and ironing on the side and preferred not to use the air conditioner because it used too much electricity. Ellie worked hard outside of the home and inside, taking her role of devoted mother and wife very seriously. She managed to squeeze a lot into one day, and was valued at each workplace, especially for her ability to make everyone feel welcomed and cared about.
In 1958, Eleanor’s life changed forever. In Los Angeles, California, she met Robert C. Russell (Bob) and they were married in 1960. They put down roots in Southern California where they raised their two daughters, Cary (Doyle) and Jean (Gibson). Cary and Jean have fond memories of wearing many matching hand-sewn outfits made by their mom, endless pool-time in the backyard, and long days riding bikes and playing games on the street with the neighborhood kids. Mom was always there to guide, protect, and provide each and every one of them with snacks and treats.
Ellie’s life was one of service and selfless devotion. One of her legacies is the unconditional care she took of her late husband Bob (2002) who was a fully disabled WWII United States Navy veteran. She stood by Bob through thick and thin and cared for him each and every single day until he passed away.
Ellie always put others first and will lovingly be remembered for this, and for her ability to make others feel comfortable. She always had an opinion and was known for her letters to Senators and editors of local newspapers. She marched to her own beat, began pinochle clubs, loved big, and sweetened and softened into everyone’s favorite resident/patient in the last few years of her long life. She is remembered for many things, but it is perhaps her feisty spirit and willingness to speak her mind that live on not only in her two daughters, but in each of her seven grandchildren.
Her last months were filled with many visits with her two daughters and their husbands (Cary and Dave, Jean and Jim) and her seven grandchildren, Andrew, Alexa, Caitlyn and Caroline Doyle and Danny, Patrick and Erin Gibson. She was the world to each of them, and them to her. She had a special and unique relationship with each of her grandkids that they will treasure forever.
A family service will be held on Monday, June 6, 2022 at Willamette National Cemetery in Portland, Oregon where she will be laid to rest alongside her husband Bob. In lieu of flowers, the family requests a donation be made to Disabled American Veterans (DAV).
Posted online on April 15, 2022
Published in Poughkeepsie Journal