Like Ellen & Pete's family, my family is another Kitchen & Bath Industry family & that is our connection. Not only is the news of Ellen's passing surreal to me, I am so saddened, so very saddened by it. She is - and always will be, a great part of our Industry...I simply cannot believe she is no longer with us. In my eyes Ellen was the Matriarch of the Kitchen & Bath Industry. My heart breaks for her love, Pete. Their love is just like the words out of the song, "True Companion," ...I can see us walking slowly arm in arm - Just like that couple on the corner do. To me, Pete & Ellen are that couple on the corner.
Ellen had a grace, like few others. She was one of the best educators our industry will EVER see. Listening to Ellen speak, was engaging - anytime I could attend a presentation of hers, I did. I encouraged all the designers I work with to go & see her speak whenever she was in their area. She was a greatly gifted speaker, not to be missed. A young designer could ask a basic question & Ellen's response started with, "I'm so glad you asked that question; that is a good question." She connected with people. Even the seasoned designers were drawn to hear Ellen speak - and that is no small feat in my book.
Ellen was the one person in our industry, the one person...who would say to me, "Now Karla, that is something you can share with me, but not really something you should say publicly." lol I SO appreciated her honesty, SO appreciated it - because it was done with caring; out of care for me. Other than my Mom, no one has ever said that sentence to me & I always appreciated it.
She gave me industry guidance so many times & I will carry the gift of it with me through my career. I will think of her every time I traverse EuroCucina as she gave the best advice on how to navigate the show.
With Ellen & Pete, I sat on Jenn-Air's Design Advisory Council. One DAC meeting we travelled from Chicago to MI to continue the meeting. Our group made a pit stop at a Starbucks for coffee & the restrooms. I was next in line after Ellen for the bathroom. As she walked out & I walked in, I giggled. Back on the bus I went up to her & asked her "Ellen, do you have touchless faucets in your home?" With a quizzical look on her face, she responded, "We do." And I said to her..."They don't have those at Starbucks." Ellen: "Was the faucet running?" "It was," I said & oh - we both had a good time laughing over it, as it felt like an inside joke for 2 people in a shared industry!
What Ellen did for our industry is unparalleled. She will be missed beyond words.
Our Matriarch is gone...and with that loss, I believe we have the end of an era in the Kitchen & Bath Industry.