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Elizabeth Ellen ATHA

1931 - 2015 Obituary Condolences
Elizabeth Ellen ATHA Obituary
ATHA, Elizabeth Ellen
Surrounded by her loving family, Elizabeth Ellen Atha, age 83, passed away peacefully after a long battle with lung cancer on Monday afternoon, June 29, 2015, in Austin. She was born on July 27, 1931 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa to Albert Edwin and Elizabeth Mary (McLay) Hitchcock.

Ellen graduated from Miami Edison Senior High School in Miami, Florida in 1949. She later earned a BA with highest honors in Arts and an MA in art history from the University of Texas at Austin. There, she was also elected as a member of the Alpha Chapter of Texas of Phi Beta Kappa honor society.

In Miami, she attended the Ebsen School of Dancing and later danced with the Miami Civic Ballet while working as a commercial artist. Ellen married Theodore (Ted) V. Atha in 1956 in Miami and they had four children. The marriage later ended in divorce. After her two eldest were born in Miami, Ellen, Ted, and family moved to Lima, Peru where her two youngest were born. The family also lived in Bolivia and Mexico City altogether spending a decade in Latin America where she painted and enjoyed a life rich in family, friends, culture, history, and art. She and her family moved next to Coronado, CA and later to Austin, TX where she lived the rest of her life, working as an archeological illustrator, portraitist, and as a member of Wildflower Unitarian Universalist Church.

Besides her painting and gardening, for which she won numerous awards, Ellen's many and varied interests included travel, reading, needlepoint, sewing, and gourmet cooking. One of her greatest pleasures was cooking for her family and friends. Her signature dish, Paella, will be remembered by many! She was also an unabashed liberal and cared deeply for issues of social justice. Ellen always had an opinion, but was open to listening to the opinions of others, even if they did not agree with hers. Wherever she found her home, she artfully created an atmosphere of warmth and elegance and she spent the majority of her years with a "joie de vivre" that was rare. She loved her family, friends, and kitties deeply and unconditionally, and they loved her back.

Ellen is survived by her children, Karen Atha, Norman (Lisa) Atha, Daniel Atha, and Claire (John) Duncan; five grand-children: Lindsay Smith, Skylar Smith, Frances Atha, Katherine Atha, and Daniel Atha; her sister, Mary (Bob) Blinderman; five nephews and nieces; many cousins; her former spouse, Theodore (Tammi) Atha; and her former son-in-law, Randy Smith.

The family wishes to thank Jason Melear, MD and the staff at Texas Oncology, as well as the staff at Seton and Stonebriar Nursing Center, for their loving and professional care.

Family, friends, and others whose lives Ellen touched are invited to celebrate her life on Saturday, July 18th at the Mayfield House and Gardens, 3505 W 35th St, Austin, TX 78703 from 11:30 am to 3:00 pm.

In lieu of flowers, contributions in Ellen's honor may be made to Austin Interfaith, 1301 S IH 35, Ste 313, Austin, TX 78741.

There are stars up above,
so far away we only see their light long,
long after the star is gone.
And so it is with people that we loved--
their memories keep shining ever brightly
though their time with us is done.
But the stars that light up the darkest night,
these are the lights that guide us.
As we live our days, these are the ways we remember.
Published in Austin American-Statesman from July 5 to July 6, 2015
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