ORANGE- Ann-Marie (Kearney) Ellison, age 91, a longtime resident of 118 Walnut Hill in Orange has passed away peacefully at Quabbin Valley Healthcare in Athol. She loved her family- consisting of many Ellisons and students, teaching, and many dogs throughout her full life.
Ann-Marie was born on May 7, 1930 in Ludlow, Vermont, the adored youngest child of George V. Kearney, Sr. and Mary (Rock) Kearney. A 1948 graduate of Black River Academy, she excelled in skiing including at Okemo Mountain back when the rope tow was a new idea, was a fine musician, a classically trained pianist and coronet player, and was an excellent swimmer and diver a la Esther Williams. Annie went on to become a member of the Middlebury College ski team, and of its band, English, and Women’s Forum groups and Kappa Delta Sorority. Ann-Marie graduated in 1952 with a B.A. in English from Middlebury College.
Upon graduation, Ann-Marie taught Biology and English and moved to teach English in Exeter, Vermont, and then back to her home town of Ludlow at Black River High School where she headed the Glee Club, Drama Club and directed One Act plays, chaperoned weekly dances, and was a faithful fan of the high school basketball teams coached by her brother, David, and her future husband, Bob. These endeavors created fond and long lasting memories as Ann-Marie married her outgoing husband of 65 years on April 16, 1955. Bob and Ann-Marie continued teaching in Ludlow until moving to Orange, Massachusetts in 1959.
Ann-Marie returned to teaching once her children were school aged and taught at Mahar Regional High School – English, Junior High General music, Guitar, Broadway musicals, and she was the outstanding accompanist to her husband’s choral groups, a position that provided an often amusing insight into creative differences, smiling here.
She was the cornerstone of the music dept., the keeper of all things Bob, thus allowing Bob to shine like a star. Annie was the woman behind, beside, and in front of the man.
Ann-Marie was the organizing principle behind “Robert!” and together they were a great team. Her determination to keep things orderly was a highly prized skill, whether passing out band uniforms, including hats and white bucks, (shoes) for groups of 160 or more, managing the backstage for the crazy busy, fun, special yearly Variety Shows, making sure that the Head Majorette had a working whistle, or seeing that “Robert!” left early enough to open the band room prior to the many parades held for most any occasion from Santa to Homecoming to Thanksgiving Day pregame rehearsals.
Ann-Marie was an English teacher, and as such, was a staunch corrector of any and all ill-conceived, grammatically incorrect sentences. She would shout with a raised eyebrow, “One n’t at a time!” and “There’s no such thing as ain’t and brung”, explaining as she corrected. She was the protector of all students - the shy, the awkward, the unique, and ‘the bandits’. Annie gave the band room its sense of home. She had more “friends” than one could count, and you always knew if you were one of her special people.
The Music Room at Mahar was dedicated to Bob and Ann-Marie in 2018 for their selfless years of service to their community, as both had impacted and mentored many students throughout the years. It was a day of celebration that they both thoroughly enjoyed.
Ann-Marie was a voracious reader throughout her life and a friend and supporter of the Wheeler Memorial Library in Orange. She was a longstanding communicant at St. Mary’s Church in Orange, a member of the choir, and the organist for some years as well. She loved to garden and had planted most of the flower beds, shrubs, and trees that graced the 118 Walnut Hill property, fed and watched the birds, gifts learned from her mother and passed on to her children and grandchildren. She loved many, many dogs in her lifetime, but none more than her faithful companion, Miss Dickens, (she was an English teacher), her sweet white yellow lab. They were indeed inseparable.
Ann-Marie was predeceased by her husband Robert M. Ellison, Sr., and leaves behind her children and their families: Mary-Ann Ellison of South Meriden, CT; Bob, Jr. and Christine Ellison of Westboro, MA; Posie Ellison, and her son, Eli and wife Tabbitha Horowitz of Suffield, CT; Shane Ellison of Orange, MA; Kathy, Dave, Joey and Katie Guarnaccia of Carlisle, MA; George, Monica and Michael Ellison of North Conway, NH; Michael Ellison and partner Marcy Dyer of Amherst, MA and his daughters, Nina and Casey of Sturbridge MA, as well as Marcy’s daughter Grace.
Ann-Marie also leaves behind her sisters-in law: Carolyn Sullivan of Orleans, MA; Ellie and Jack O’Neil of Baca Raton, FL; and Clare Ellison of Naples, FL and many loving nieces and nephews and their extended families.
Ann-Marie was predeceased by her parents, as well as her brother George V. Kearney, Jr., (Hazel), David R. Kearney, (Pat), and her twin infant brother Robert L. Kearney
She was also also predeceased by brothers in law: Phillip M. Sullivan, Sr., Edward Ellison, Sr., and George H. Ellison, Sr.
FACE MASKS REQUIRED FOR:
We will come together to celebrate the lives of both Ann-Marie and Bob with calling hours at Witty’s Funeral Home in Orange on Friday, September 24, 2021 from 4-6 p.m.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be said the following day, Saturday, September 25, 2021 at 10:00 a.m. at St. Francis of Assisi Church, 101 Main Street, Athol .
A Reception will be held 12-3 p.m. at the Orange Gun Club, West River Street, Orange, MA
The final resting place of Ann-Marie and Bob will be at Pleasant View Cemetery in Ludlow, Vermont.
A memorial plaque will be placed at South Cemetery in Orange, MA, a place where Ann- Marie and Bob often walked these last few years remembering friends and loved ones.
Donations are suggested to the Orange Scholarship Foundation, memo- Ellison Music Scholarship, P.O. Box 298, Orange, MA 01364
Witty’s Funeral Home, 158 South Main Street, Orange, is assisting the family.
Guest book and directions online at WWW.WITTYFUNERALHOME.COM
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