Jean Mary Glarner Ellzey, 93, of Oak Park, died on Oct. 5, 2020 at Norwood Crossing in Chicago, surrounded by family. Born on Aug. 2, 1927, in St. Paul, Minnesota, one of three children, her parents, Doris Harrison Glarner and Milo Jacob Glarner, moved to Raymondville, Texas, where her father established a law practice and where Jean grew up. In 1944, she attended Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas, and transferred to Southern Methodist University (SMU) in Dallas, graduating in 1948, after which she taught music to young children. While at SMU, she met her husband, Charles (Chuck) Homer Ellzey whom she married in 1949.
They had three children, Doris Jean (Dorie), Christine (Christi), and David Charles, and while her husband completed his PhD, serving in the United Methodist Church and teaching at Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, she supported her him and raised their three children in Wilmette. After they moved to Naperville in 1971, at the age of 45, she attended graduate school at George Williams Community College, earning a degree in Counseling Psychology.
Following her divorce in 1977, she worked as a teacher and a counselor for 15 years at Moraine Valley Community College in Palos Hills and DuPage Community College in Glen Ellyn, where she touched many lives through her course “Women in Transition” and as a counselor to many. She joined the DuPage Unitarian Universalist Church and sang in the choir.
She retired in 1990 and in 2000 moved to Oak Park to be closer to her daughter, Dorie, son-in-law Marc Blesoff, and their three children. She joined Unity Temple and sang in the choir. In 2013, she moved to Brookdale Assisted Living Community, and in 2015 moved to Norwood Crossing senior living community in Chicago. The family appreciates all those who provided programs, meals, friendship, exercise, music and nursing care to her in both locations.
In addition to raising her three children (and influencing her five grandchildren) to be creative, open-minded and concerned about the welfare of others, she loved the natural world. A devoted gardener, she soothingly coaxed her plants and personally thanked the birds for singing. She adored trees and loved Morton Arboretum. She delighted in the colors of nature and often basked in the sun to “soak in Vitamin D” and become renewed. She had music in her bones, singing to all of her kids, singing in church choirs, singing in musical programs, including the last year of her life, and was always game to gather around a piano. She was a social justice advocate who continued to add causes to her list. She passed on her favorite sayings and life lessons and sure-fire ways to squeeze the juices out of being alive.
Preceded in death by her late sister, Carolyn Swanberg, Jean is survived by her sister, Kathryn Hemeyer; her children, Dorie Blesoff (Marc), Christine Ione, and David Ellzey; her grandchildren, Jamine, Evan and Mara Blesoff, Courtney Rile (Mike Barletta) and Devon Rile (Kristen Buchan); her great-granddaughters, Athina and Wrynn; her nieces and nephews, Lance Swanberg (Jamie), Cindy Schwing (Larry), Marshall Swanberg (Kathleen), Gary Hemeyer (Christina), Suzanne Hemeyer, Bryan Hemeyer (Chelle) and many loving nieces- and nephews-in-law.
The family will hold a virtual “Circle of Love” on Sunday, Oct. 25 at 11:30 a.m. If you are interested in details, email Info@davidellzey.com. There will also be a tribute in her memory set up at Morton Arboretum on a specially-selected tree.
Donations are encouraged to any of these three favorite organizations: Heifer International (heifer.org), Doctors Without Borders (doctorswithoutborders.org), or Union of Concerned Scientists (ucsusa.org).
Arrangements were handled by Drechsler, Brown & Williams Funeral Home.