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Parklawn-Wood Funeral Home & Memorial Park

2551 North Armistead Ave, Hampton, VA

OBITUARY

Mary Ellen Harris

April 17, 1925June 7, 2019
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Mary Ellen McElroy Harris has finished her earthly journey and released her hold on a life that she lived fully and in the way she wanted for most of her 94 years. She was born in Pacific Grove, California on April 17, 1925, and spent most of her childhood in Los Angeles, California. She was the third of four children born to Warren Otis and Estelle Guyton McElroy. She is preceded in death by her parents; siblings: Edna Earl McElroy Crosby, James McElroy and Warren Elmo McElroy, and her husband, Willie Lee Harris. She is survived by her only child, Michèle Francis Woods Pickens (Edward); two grandchildren: Sjaun Woods (Shawn Bronson) and Leasa Woods Anderson (Richard); and four great- grandchildren: Shelby and Skyler Woods and Corrine and Malcolm Anderson. She is Aunt Mary Ellen to: Yvonne Pritchett Pate, Herman Edwards, Irvina Perez, Denise Rice Everett and Gina Rice Ferguson. She has one nephew who resides in Phoenix, Arizona with extended family and six close cousins: Gloria Harbin Dunham (Harold), Katherine Bell, Diane Butler, Arlivia “Libby” Sterling, Laurie Mearse and Lisa Price. In addition to a host of Generation X and Millennial relatives who adored her, she had many cherished friendships and numerous valued relationships. A powerhouse of emotional intelligence and exceptional interpersonal skills, she garnered the admiration of many and was known for her ability to communicate personally as well as a public speaker, to take action and to develop solutions. Her leadership skills were such that she rose to the top in organizations, committees and projects to which she belonged and her contributions have positively impacted many individuals in various ways. She was a dedicated community servant and civic leader who rallied on behalf of justice and inclusion. She encouraged individuals to aspire, engage and contribute to the needs of their environment. Focusing on developing new skills and broadening her abilities, she was active as an enthusiastic member of the Monterey Peninsula Toastmasters Club, and she valued her affiliation with The Panetta Institute for Public Policy, Carmel Woman’s Club, Monterey Peninsula College and California State University Monterey Bay Mary Ellen was revered and highly respected receiving throughout her life too many awards and accolades to note here. She loved learning, listening to music, playing bridge and engaging in fun activities with people she enjoyed. She was extremely proud to be a Registered Parliamentarian and a member of the National Association of Parliamentarians. She also cherished her appointment as a member of the Monterey Bay Blues Festival Board of Directors and the Chair of the Scholarship Committee of the Coalition of Scholarship Organizations and a member of the Monterey NAACP. After retirement from her ranking supervisory position at the Ft. Ord Out-Patient Hospital, she remained active in two federal retirement organizations, served on the Board of the Salvation Army and continued her work in scholarship development and social justice issues. In 2014, Mary Ellen moved to Virginia where she settled into true retirement life at the Colonial Harbors Senior Community in Yorktown. She developed close friendships and enjoyed playing bridge, going on excursions and attending performances, exercise classes, and talent shows with the other senior “Girls” in her complex. She will be greatly missed by many, and she will be remembered by all who knew her. Three of her favorite sayings were: “Always end the day with a positive thought. No matter how hard things were, tomorrow’s a fresh opportunity to make it better,” “Music is one of life’s most important survival tools. It nourishes us, it gives us hope, helps us heal, and gives us the strength to keep going even in the toughest of times,” and “The best things in life are the people we love, the places we’ve been and the memories we’ve made along the way.” The family will receive friends at a viewing on June 18, 2019, at Parklawn-Wood Funeral Home in Hampton, Virginia at 6:00 p.m. The funeral mass will be held at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Hampton, Virginia on June 19, 2019 at 10:00 a.m. Her daughter and granddaughter will escort Mary Ellen to Seaside, California for her Homegoing Services on June 21, 2019 at 6:30 p.m. at the Bayside Community Mortuary, and Burial Services on June 22, 2019 at 10:00 a.m. at Mission Memorial Park. Burial Services will be followed by a Celebration of Life Brunch at the Monterey Bay Embassy Suites. During her final 5 years of life, Mary Ellen called Colonial Harbors Senior Community in Yorktown, Virginia her home. At her request, she remained there until her last week of life in full-time hospice care. On behalf of our Mom, Grandma and Gigi, her family wishes to thank her neighbors and friends, especially Virginia Gearhart and Faye Lewis and the staff: Margie, Sharon and Michael. We also extend heartfelt appreciation to the Medi Home Health and Hospice team who shepherded us through a long and difficult journey…Thank you Melody, Lois, Deedra, Rachel and Dr. Jacob Almeida as well as the loving care given by the health care angels: Tiffany, Tracy, Tammy, Tyneka, Raven, Bernetha and Charmin. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that you make a donation to the American Lung Association at https://www.lung.org or The American Cancer Society at https://www.cancer.org in memory of Mary Ellen McElroy Harris.

  • FAMILY

  • Warren Otis McElroy, Father (deceased)
  • Estelle Guyton McElroy, Mother (deceased)
  • Edna Earl McElroy Crosby, Sister (deceased)
  • James McElroy, Brother (deceased)
  • Warren Elmo McElroy, Brother (deceased)
  • Willie Lee Harris, Husband (deceased)
  • Michele Francis Woods Pickens (Edward), Daughter
  • Sjaun Woods (Shawn Bronson), Grandchild
  • Leasa Woods Anderson (Richard), Grandchild
  • Shelby Woods, Great Grandchild
  • Skyler Woods, Great Grandchild
  • Corrine Anderson, Great Grandchild
  • Malcolm Anderson, Great Grandchild
  • Yvonne Pritchett Pate, Niece
  • Herman Edwards, Nephew
  • Irvana Perez, Niece
  • Denise Rice Everett, Niece
  • Gina Rice Ferguson, Niece
  • Gloria Harbin Dunham (Harold), Cousin
  • Katherine Bell, Cousin
  • Diane Butler, Cousin
  • Arlivia "Libby" Sterling, Cousin
  • Laurie Mearse, Cousin
  • Lisa Price, Cousin

Services

  • Visitation Tuesday, June 18, 2019
  • Funeral Mass Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Memories

Mary Ellen Harris

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John and Denise Mitchell

June 21, 2019

We will always treasure those fond memories of Mary Ellen Harris. She bestowed warm thoughts of genuine love to everyone.
Every step you took, her guidance and support helped you along the way. God has another Angel.
J.I. Mitchell II

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