Ellen  Hamill
Ellen Hamill

March 20, 1939 - November 13, 2017
Born in Cambridge, Wisconsin
Resided in Albany, Oregon


Ellen Hamill passed away peacefully on November 13, 2017. She was still living in her home, in Albany, OR, but had recently had a bout with pneumonia and was recovering at Regency Nursing Home when she died. She was loved by many, and will be greatly missed.

Ellen was born, March 20, 1939, to Evelyn B. Heck and Archie L. Derlein on March 20, 1939 in Cambridge, WI. She graduated from Fort Atkinson High School in 1958 and spent most of her young years in a very small community, in the rural countryside. There she had a small group of 8 friends whom she kept in contact with through most of her life. She also continued to connect with her graduating class throughout her adult life. She valued her friends and enjoyed sharing life’s path. She absorbed the lush greens, rolling hills and farmlands and Wisconsin and later described how this she found similarity with the beauty found in Oregon.

She loved her family: her sister Barbara Dall and brother-in-law, Victor Dall; and her half-brother, Ken Derlein, who married Rachel Knutson. All are gone now … Ellen remembered them all fondly.

While married to Robert (Rusty) Hamill, a career Navy man, they lived in Arizona, San Diego, Montana, Tennessee, Washington, and then California. They had 2 children, Tanya Leigh, and Colleen Caye. After her divorce from Robert, Ellen stayed in California a while, then moved to Oregon and spent more than 30 years there.

Ellen relished in developing a close relationship with her daughter, Colleen and her granddaughter Jennifer. She was very involved in helping to raise Jenny and they were very close, sharing many of life’s celebrations. And more recently, Ellen had time to get to know her great-granddaughter, Scarlett, now 4. They had recently visited in February and September 2017 and this was a great comfort to her. Ellen wanted to pass on a legacy … her thoughts, ideas and philosophies. We are so grateful to have had this time with her.

Ellen had a passion for artistic expression from a very early age. She started taking art classes in Madison, WI and then in Arizona, where she met Robert Hamill. As young newlyweds, they used their artistic skills to create a business building, carving and painting signs for local businesses. They were both quite artistic and their business was successful for a few years. They also created many outdoor displays for the holidays.

They enjoyed gardening, too, and at each place they lived they built a garden. In Washington, the garden was quite large with a veggie garden in the back yard and all flowers in the front. Ellen continued her passion for gardening throughout her life, and there are many photos documenting her love of flowers. Her garden was an artistic outlet and she often worked on color combinations and design for aesthetic beauty. She loved home grown tomatoes.

Ellen and Robert’s first child, Tanya, was born with a birth defect. They loved this child with all their hearts, but after 18 months the Lord called for Tanya. This experience created so much grief, I don’t believe either of them actually found peace, and ultimately the loss of this child caused their dissolution of their marriage. Ellen developed a deep inner darkness from this experience, and much of her writing and poetry came from that inner place.

Ellen loved the ocean … often dreaming of the seeing the ocean as a child, she painted her first oil paintings of the ocean before ever laying eyes on it. She finally made it to the West Coast and never moved far from the ocean after that. She had experiences of drowning as a child, so she had a great fear of the turbulent waters, but often shared that her soul was aching for “merging” with those waters. She studied the pounding waves, and how the light filtered through them, how they crashed together and made great foam explosions, and she wrote many poems with this theme. She overcame her fears and swam in the ocean and delighted in the excitement of the moment.

Ellen loved animals - always taking pictures of them. She had many pets of her own, and also made friends with many local animals - both pets of friends and local farm animals.

Ellen loved to play, although she had a strong work ethic, when it was time for play she played with all her heart. She loved to bicycle - in her middle years she joined a club and would go long distances (up to 100 miles in a weekend!) She loved to roller skate and learned to ice skate too. He hiked many long trails through the California and Oregon hills and enjoyed the wildflowers along the way. Ellen loved to play games too. She was witty, a quick learner, and a good sport … and we all know that she joked about cheating all the time … but she was just too honest to ever really cheat!

Ellen was also instrumental in developing bicycling law in Santa Clara County. She worked tirelessly with her friends and club members to affect the laws about bike lanes, and riding in traffic.

Ellen studied psychology at San Jose State University. Although she did not complete her degree, she gained a lot of confidence from returning to school

Ellen worked, in California, at banks, shops, and government offices. Most notably, she spent many years as an office manager in the office of the County of Santa Clara in the department of Welfare & Child Protective Services. When she moved to Oregon, she also had several jobs, but eventually found a comfortable and fun place to work at Oregon State University, where she eventually retired from the mailing department.

In retirement, Ellen developed a business from another of her artistic passions - photography. She found so much pleasure in capturing the images with contrast, light, and atmosphere. She won many awards and the respect of her fellows from the local photography clubs. She found that she could keep in close contact with the world around her by driving through the Oregon countryside and photographing the many local farms, barns, historical buildings, and animals … and then connecting with the folks who owned or worked there … and offering her pictures to them. She would make up cards with the photos, and write about the place where the photo was taken and then share those photos back with the place where the photo was taken. This kept her close with her local & coastal communities. She also displayed her large, framed photos at galleries, exhibits, local businesses and coffee shops. She called her business Oregon Art Photos. She described photos of Oregon as “a celebration of joy for you to enjoy”!

Ellen had many friends and colleagues. She had such a wide variety of interests that her friends come from all walks of life. She had a very open mind when it came to religious ideas, although she had most confidence in her connection with Jesus Christ. She had very strong political ideas and studied history to learn about the present. She was an avid reader, and also a writer. She enjoyed crafting: sewing, candle making, drawing, baking - and sharing those crafts at the local fairs. She enjoyed many years with the local knitting group. She volunteered for Hospice for several years and helped others publish their life stories.

Ellen was affiliated with too many clubs and organizations to list here … but here is a short list:
Artists in Action (AIA), OR
Keizer Art Association, OR
Columbia Council of Camera Clubs (4c’s), OR
Corvallis Photo Arts Guild, (PAG) OR
Gallery: Lens, Book and Shutter - Albany, OR
Albany Camera Club, OR
Brownville Art Association, OR
Northwest Poets Concord, Newport, OR

Ellen is survived by her daughter Colleen Toland, her granddaughter, Jennifer Hamill and her great-granddaughter, Scarlett de Leon (now 4!).

We will have a celebration of life in Scio at the Grange Hall on Jan 13, 1pm to 4pm.
**All are invited to join**

Historic ZCBJ Hall 38704 N Main St Scio, OR
Please feel free to call Colleen for information (831) 234-3809

Donations can be made in her name to local charities:
Safe Haven Animal Shelter: https://safehavenhumane.org/
Brownsville Art Association: http://brownsvilleart.org/




Celebration of Life
38704 N Main St.
Scio, Oregon United States 97374
Saturday, January 13, 2018
1:00 PM - 4:00 PM