Evelyn May McGee Ellis, 95, Portsmouth


Evelyn May McGee Ellis, beloved mother and friend, died peacefully at home in Portsmouth on Saturday, July 13, at the age of 95.

Evelyn was born in Sacramento, Calif. on May 26, 1918. After graduating from Mission High School in San Francisco, and training at Cogswell Polytechnic Institute, Evelyn went to work for the Link Belt Company. In 1937 she married John Ellis of Salem, Mass., a graduate of Dartmouth College. They made their home in a tiny cabin in Donner Pass, where they built and operated one of the first ski tows in California.

World War II created a gas shortage and no one could use precious gas to drive to Donner Pass to ski, so Evelyn and John and two daughters relocated to Napa Valley, where John engineered warships for the Navy until VJ Day 1945. The Ellis family then moved east, living successively in Pittsfield, Mass., Warrensburg N.Y. and Concord. Mass., adding four more children along the way.

In 1970, the Ellis family moved to the Hummocks in Portsmouth. R.I., where they had been summering since 1963. They were members of Tiverton YC and raced the Candy boat Peppermint and International 420 Little Dipper.

Evelyn was hostess at the Stone Bridge Inn in Tiverton and for many years at the Mt. Hope Marina House on Bristol Ferry Road. She then served 15 years with the R.I. Dept of Children and Their Families in Newport. Upon retiring, she became a volunteer at the Portsmouth Multi-Purpose Senior Center, where she was affectionately known as Evy. Evelyn was a member of Portsmouth United Methodist Church and a member of the church’s Bell Choir.

Evelyn leaves six children: Lee Matson of Seattle, Barbara Ellis of Miami, Stephen Ellis of New York City, Carol Ellis Menz of Alameda, Calif., David Ellis of Portsmouth and Stanley Ellis of Exeter, N.H. She also leaves 19 grandchildren and 22 great-grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held at the Portsmouth United Methodist Church on Sunday, July 21, at 2 p.m. Evelyn’s ashes will buried in the McGee family plot in Sacramento alongside her brother, parents and grandparents. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to The Potter League for Animals, PO Box 412, Newport RI 02840. All are welcome to share memories at MemorialFuneralHome.com.


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A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.