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Ellen McGarr

Ellen McGarr Obituary
Ellen Harper McGarr 2011 Ellen Harper McGarr died peacefully at home following a struggle with cancer. Family and friends were awed at her composure. Carried away on the wings of angels, she is secure in the arms of our Savior, her head comfortably and attractively tilted at about a 45 degree angle so that it rests on our Lord's right shoulder. Miss McGarr was born with a strong and unique sense of humor that not only entertained strangers and sustained friends for decades, but allowed her to contribute her own unique touch to her obituary. Miss McGarr was born and raised in Tallassee, Alabama, a cotton mill town populated by good-hearted people but with very few fine old families of respectable lineage. Fortunately, the McGarrs were one of the lucky families and enjoyed the benefits of sterling flatware at holidays, relatives represented in the Museum of the Confederacy, and the general satisfaction that comes with knowing who one's people are. Miss McGarr learned the importance of good manners from an early age and was admired by many. Miss McGarr showed an early interest in music, which was nurtured at the First United Methodist Church and by her mother, Mrs. Leonard McGarr, Jr. (Nancy), who holds a piano performance degree from LaGrange (Georgia) College, and is equally happy putting her talents to use in the piano bar at Kowliga resort as she is at various churches. Miss McGarr distinguished herself at Tallassee High School, serving as the band's drum major and as editor of the Talla-Hi News. She was one of four graduation speakers elected by the faculty for 1978 commencement exercises. All of this was achieved while maintaining a 1.8 grade point average. Accepted to the University of Montevallo (Alabama) (the alma mater of both grandmothers), Miss McGarr enrolled for two semesters and actually attended class for one. She then transferred to William Carey College in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, where she was awarded the Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Theatre in 1982. Miss McGarr performed in numerous productions at the college, including four summer seasons of Carey Dinner Theater. Her notoriety as a performer spread beyond the campus and she was recognized frequently when shopping in the Hattiesburg mall. She never tired of telling the story about the total stranger who came up to her and asked, "Did I see you at Carey Dinner Theater last Saturday?" Miss McGarr launched - and pretty much ended - her professional theater career with the 1982-83 tour of the Sheffield Ensemble Theater, performing in an original musical comedy called Videosyncrasies. She then moved to New York City and pretended to pursue a career in theater. When it became apparent that she was too lazy for a theatre career, she turned her attention to other opportunities. After two years as a Telex operator, Miss McGarr became the executive assistant to the president of Keizaikia New York, Inc., a subsidiary of a Japanese publishing and business consulting firm. As one of two people on staff, she held significant responsibilities. After six years, she moved to the American Red Cross of Greater New York where she served as executive assistant to the CEO. She resigned after only nine months due to the fact that she was about to be fired. During those years, Miss McGarr's personal life was more interesting than her professional life. She visited her family in Alabama frequently, but good taste prevented her from disclosing most of what was going on. After fourteen years in New York City, Miss McGarr bid adieu to a beloved circle of friends (many of whom were Southerners she had known since college) and moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to attend the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia in preparation for ordained ministry in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. She managed a few semesters before realizing what a terrible mistake she had made. Miss McGarr quit full time study, but stayed at the seminary to work as a staff member and attend classes part time. This enabled her to remain a part of the seminary community she enjoyed so much while still quitting something. Quitting was an activity she had come to love and would enjoy for the rest of her life. In addition to the chance to quit something, her seven years in Philadelphia provided Miss McGarr with many wonderful friendships. Interestingly, she took in stride her many years in Northern cities, perhaps because she was able to meet Southerners wherever she went. Sadly, she stopped making homemade mayonnaise and began to put dark meat in her chicken salad, but she did remember how to set a table. While in Philadelphia, Miss McGarr met her long-time companion, Miss Judy Troyer, with whom she would share many lovely vacations and several questionable real estate transactions. The Misses McGarr and Troyer moved to Idaho in 2002. Miss McGarr was employed seven years by the Idaho Department of Correction in a series of tasteful positions, and developed cherished friendships with many of her colleagues. Though unable to convince anyone to give her a weapon, badge, or pepper spray, she loved working for "The Department." Miss McGarr was preceded in death by her father, Mr. Leonard McGarr, and by her great-great-grandfather, Peter Hurst, Bandmaster of the Alabama (Confederate) Regimental Band. She was entitled to membership in Daughters of the Confederacy, an honor she never bothered to claim. She is survived by Miss Troyer of Garden City, ID; her mother, Mrs. Leonard McGarr, Jr.; and her brother and sister-in-law, Mr. and Mrs. Samuel H. McGarr II, all of Hoover, AL. ARequiem Eucharist service will be held Monday April 25, 2011 at 1:00 p.m. at St. Michael's Episcopal Cathedral (518 North 8th Street Boise, ID). Arrangements are with Boise Funeral Home Aclesa Chapel (322-3999). In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Personal Assistance Fund, Mountain States Tumor Institute, 100 E. Idaho St., Boise, ID. 83712

Published in Idaho Statesman on Apr. 21, 2011
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