Gerry Ellis could harmonize in any key, and on occasion did so in her sleep. Born into a family of musicians in Toledo, Ohio, in 1928, Mrs. Ellis adored music of all kinds, but jazz was her favorite – a trio of piano, drums and stand-up bass in particular. She loved choirs, sang alto, and was a stylish dancer who could lead or follow.
Mrs. Ellis, daughter of Paul and Ruth Norris, was a 1946 graduate of Waite High School, where she was the fastest typist in her class. She married Bill Ellis in 1948, and they raised a family in Toledo, where Mrs. Ellis was a room mother and Girl Scout troop leader who supported her two daughters’ interests with love and enthusiasm.
She never missed a recital, report card conference, game or graduation, and devotion was her hallmark as a mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. Her grandsons remember Mrs. Ellis letting them roll canned goods across her kitchen floor, teaching them gin rummy – she always let them win – and testing recipes on them.
She was a baker, making for family and friends any kind of pie they requested. She loved sports – baseball, basketball, and football in that order – and the Detroit Tigers and Pistons were her favorite teams.
An enthusiast of exercise, Mrs. Ellis followed Jack LaLanne on TV, was involved in group aerobic dance, and later in life would spend 30 minutes a day on a NordicTrack while watching the news. She attended a women’s fitness summer camp, part of her longtime membership in Pilgrim United Church of Christ in Toledo, where she served as secretary for 30 years. She visited shut-ins and those living in retirement communities, a role she loved.
Spry and cheerful, Mrs. Ellis was always up for a road trip, a meal out, or a concert, day or night. When she moved to Philadelphia to live near daughter Vicki, Mrs. Ellis joined St. Luke and the Epiphany Episcopal Church, made new friends, and surprised everyone with a newfound love of pool.
Mrs. Ellis, 91, died Saturday, April 18, of COVID-19-related complications. She had made Simpson House, the West Philadelphia retirement community, her home since 2013.
In addition to her daughter, survivors include daughter Linda Black, two grandsons, and three great-grandchildren. She was predeceased by her husband.