Recent Obituaries
In Memoriam Archive

Ellen A. Spear ’52

September 11, 2017, in Eugene, Oregon, from complications due to a stroke.

Born in Brooklyn, New York, Ellen moved to Camas, Washington—her mother’s hometown—following the death of her father when she was five. She grew up exploring the woods, creeks, and rivers surrounding Camas and developed a lifelong love and respect for the natural world. She graduated from Camas High School, where she played clarinet in the band that marched in the 1948 Pasadena Rose Parade. Ellen attended Reed and earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from UC Berkeley in 1958.

She moved to San Francisco in 1952 and lived in the Bay Area for many years. Ellen loved writing, bicycling, gardening, literature, geology, social justice, classical music, painting with watercolors, and making things with her hands. While living in Berkeley in the early ’70s, she was an avid political activist, organizing a group that fought to end illegal taxation and for public ownership of Berkeley’s municipal utilities. She was also a committed antiwar activist, and to the last days of her life was a self-reliant feminist, ahead of her time, who valued intellectual and creative thought. In 1973, she moved with her daughters to Eugene, Oregon, where she lived the remainder of her life. She worked state government jobs and spent much of her career assisting students in the government documents section of Knight Library at the University of Oregon. Ellen is survived by her daughters, Pamina and Renata Ewing, and her brother, John Speer.

Appeared in Reed magazine: December 2018

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