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November 17, 2011

Ellen H. Rockwell


— Ellen Louise Haiston Rockwell, age 93, died on Thursday, Nov. 10, 2011, in St. Luke’s-Cornwall Hospital in Newburgh.

Ellen was born on Sept. 4, 1918, in Tyrone, Pa. She grew up in Pottstown, Pa., where her father, Frank Haiston, was the superintendant of schools and her mother, Elizabeth Kriner was an elementary school teacher. Her younger sister, Mary Alice Fronheiser and older brother, Frank predeceased her.

She received her bachelor’s degree in art education at Edenborough State teacher’s college, where she met and married Richard Waring Rockwell in 1942. During World War II, she volunteered for the Red Cross, until her first child, Jane, was born in 1944.

When her husband returned from the war, the family moved to Brooklyn, where he continued his education at Pratt Institute under the GI bill. In 1951, the family moved to New City.

She helped found the Collaberg School in Stony Point, where she taught art and kindergarten for many years. She divorced in 1962, and after her children were grown, she moved to California in 1973, where she was a member of the Synanon Community for 18 years, working as a graphic artist.

In 1991, she moved back east to be near family. For 18 years, she lived in Edmeston and Cooperstown, and worked for the Otsego County Office of Aging where she was the editor of the Office of Aging newsletter. In September 2009, she was forced to retire at _ age 91, after losing her eye sight.

However, she continued to do volunteer work at Bassett Medical Center in Cooperstown until she moved to Cornwall in November 2010, to be closer to her children.

She was an inspiration to all who met her for her fierce independence and determination. Despite visual impairment and aging, she continued to exercise daily and enjoy life.

She enjoyed good food, ice cream, cappuccinos (at “2 Alice’s Restaurant” in Cornwall), audio books, public radio and most of all  — visits from her childrenand good friends. She was exercising with her best friend when she had her stroke and quickly slipped into a coma.

She is survived by her four children, Jane Jaffe (New York City), Nicholas Rockwell (Fort Montgomery), Andrew Rockwell (Ringwood, N.J.) and Jessica Rockwell (New Gloucester, Maine); and six grandchildren, Jason Claiborne, Chris Rockwell, Jed Rockwell, Nicole, Alex and Eric Jederlinic; as well as two great-grandchildren, Kimberly Rose and Aiden Rockwell.

In accordance with her wishes, she did not want a funeral but a celebration of life gathering to be held in her memory. This will be held in the spring of 2012, along with the spreading of her ashes over her favorite mountain top-view in Harriman State Park. The date is yet to be determined.

Her friends will be notified and asked to contribute any memorabilia they wish to share. She will be missed.