Ellen Roller, 72, of Grafton, WI was peacefully taken by our Lord Jesus Christ on January 3, 2016 at 9:45pm. Ellen spent her final days at Lasata Care Center in Cedarburg, WI after being diagnosed with cancer in December 2015.
Ellen was born August 30, 1943 in Milwaukee, WI to Albert and Olga Oberneder (Hein). Ellen arrived into the world at a time when America held so much uncertainty. For her German immigrant family, life in Milwaukee was full of challenges, mysteries and promise. While she would eventually move and call many different places “home” throughout her life, Ellen’s ties to Milwaukee included graduating from Custer High School in 1961 and working as an executive secretary for Schlitz Brewery.
Ellen became a published writer, and also had many occupations and experiences that shaped who she was. Some of these eclectic occupations included working as a bank teller, helping children write stories as a teaching assistant at Batavia school, serving as tour operator of her hobby farm in Adell, owning and running a Port Washington bakery, working in food service at the American Club, and renovating homes. In addition, Ellen's 1967 marriage to husband Mike brought her travel and expanded her worldview; they lived and worked in many places, including Spain and Puerto Rico.
Ellen and Mike had two children and continued to move frequently with his career. Life calmed down when, in 1986, they purchased their Adell hobby farm on Indian Mound Road. Ellen fell in love with country living and the family shared their years there with chickens, ducks, goats, burros, a llama, a horse, quite a few farm cats, and a handful of loyal farm dogs. Their hobby farm was expanded and improved: an orchard was planted, fences and rock walls erected, trails and gardens re-discovered. The property’s barns were fixed and painted and then filled with old implements, buggies, carriages and machinery that honored farm days of the past. Ellen began giving tours, and the farm became a respite for city kids and others desperate for fresh country air. Ellen, the true connector she was, reached out to and got to know the neighbors, made friends and helped others. The farm was a special place for her family. After moving for so many years, the Adell area really felt like home.
The family eventually sold the farm and went their separate ways, however Ellen returned to Adell and purchased a log home near HWY A, and she again began making it hers - adding a sunroom, planting trees, and building trails and a special schoolhouse on the prairie.
A wish to be closer to her two children and grandchildren eventually guided Ellen to her home in the Grafton/Cedarburg area. Again, she connected with neighbors, planted trees, built a gazebo, grew a prayer garden retreat.
A free-spirited woman, Ellen had a passion for nature, a gentleness toward animals, and was uniquely intuitive, kind, and generous with her love and her time. Children held a special place in her heart, and she, in theirs, as she really “saw” them and made sure they knew it.
Ellen also had a relentless, life-long pursuit of God and faith. Her strong beliefs sustained her and gave her strength throughout her journey as well as helped her inspire and guide many others through tough times in their lives.
Ellen is preceded in death by her parents and her brother, Albert Oberneder. She was the loving mother of Mark (Yvette) Roller of Cedarburg and Alixe (Jason) Rheeve of Cedarburg. Dear sister of Janet Tadin and Carolyn (Lenny) Eversdyk. Ellen deeply loved and cared for each of her grandchildren: Ava, Henry, Louis, and Charlotte as well as her precious dog, Duffy. She leaves behind loving cousins, nieces, nephews and countless friends.
On Saturday, January 9, 2016, a Memorial Service will be held at 1:30pm at Riveredge Nature Center, 4458 County Y, Saukville, WI 53080. Snacks and refreshments will be served immediately after the service, and we’ll continue the celebration of Ellen’s lively life with polka music.
In lieu of flowers please make all memorial gifts to the The Heartland Hospice Memorial Fund. Gifts will be used to help families with the spiritual, financial and physical challenges they face when confronted with a serious illness. www.heartlandhospicefund.org