"For I know that my Redeemer liveth."
The soul of Barbara Darrin Willis Ellis of Mathews, took flight Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2012.
Barbara was born July 15, 1930, in New York City to Jean Antoinette Rossi Willis and Monroe Darrin Willis. She grew up in Bronxville, N.Y., and graduated from the Cathedral School of Saint Mary, Garden City, N.Y., and the University of Vermont in Burlington.
As a young woman in the early 1950s, Barbara returned to New York to begin a career that included employment with Lord & Taylor and Time, Inc. Through her friend Carolyn Murray Moore, Barbara met her future husband, Collier Hassell Ellis Jr., a young widower from High Point, N.C. They were married in October 1956. Through love and adoption, Barbara became mother to Stephen McCain Ellis, Collier’s five-year-old son with the late Alma Virginia McCain Ellis. Their daughter Darrin’s birth in September of 1957 made their family complete.
Barbara served the High Point community in a number of ways, most notably through her many-year membership in the Junior League of High Point. She taught Sunday school and served on the Altar Guild at Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church.
In 1965, Barbara and Collier moved their family to the Deep River community outside High Point to begin a long and happy love affair with country life in general and with horses in particular. They were active members of Sedgefield Hunt and loved hosting trail rides across the acreage now covered by Oak Hollow Lake.
In 1974, after visiting friends in Tidewater Virginia, they again felt the urge to "look out a new window." For the next 37 years, Barbara and Collier loved and served the community of Mathews County, where Kingston Episcopal Parish became the center of their lives. Collier served in a variety of roles, most notably Senior Warden and Lay Reader. Barbara served on the Altar Guild and as its chair for many years.
Barbara’s love of gardening and flower arranging came to full bloom as she pursued the Virginia Master Gardener certification and worked tirelessly with the Garden Club of Mathews. Collier’s artistic talents found a new medium in bird carving. His work is now in collections throughout the U.S.
Barbara’s last chapter began when Collier passed away on Jan. 29, 1999. The energy she previously put into the loving care of her husband was redirected to travels with friends and the addition of Meals on Wheels to her volunteer life. Barbara’s world further expanded when her daughter Darrin and son-in-law John Ellis-May moved from Richmond, Va., to Milton, Ga. Through Darrin, her mother volunteered with the Southeastern Flower Show and became an honorary member of the Episcopal Cathedral of St. Philip Flower Guild in Atlanta. For seven Christmas seasons she joined the Guild in decorating the Cathedral spaces.
Ever the communicator, Barbara’s last weeks were spent in conversations with her friends and extended family via phone, email, Facebook and visits.
To honor her memory, in lieu of flowers, the family asks that contributions be made to Riverside Walter Reed Hospital Hospice, 7358 Main Street, Gloucester, Va. 23061, the Helen’s Gift Fund of the Gloucester-Mathews Humane Society, P.O. Box 385, Gloucester, Va. 23061, or The Georgia Daffodil Society, c/o Bonnie Campbell, 590 Sandy Creek Road, Fayetteville, Ga. 30214.
The Celebration of Barbara’s Life will take place Thursday, March 15, 2012, at 11 a.m. at Christ Church, Williams Wharf Road, Mathews, Va. A second Celebration will be held in High Point, N.C., in the late Spring.
Foster-Faulkner Funeral Home and Cremation Service is in charge of the arrangements.