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Ellen A. Maurer
May 28, 1941 - June 11, 2017

Ellen A. Maurer

Ellen A. Maurer
May 28, 1941 - Jun 11, 2017

Ellen A. Maurer
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Dorothy "Ellen" Allbeck Maurer died June 11, 2017 of congestive heart failure caused by chemo in 1995. She was born May 28, 1941, the daughter of Frank and Winifred (Manning) Allbeck of Millville, Pennsylvania. She grew up on a multi-purpose farm that has been in her family for seven generations, 183 years, since 1834. In 1959, she graduated from Millville Area Joint High School. During her youth she had raised Hereford beef cattle as a 4-H project and used the proceeds to help pay her tuition in 1959 at Penn State University, planning to study animal husbandry so she could run a ranch out West, as she was a big fan of Zane Grey westerns. Instead, she studied agricultural journalism, which propelled her into a career as teacher, writer, editor, photographer, and international science communications consultant.

Penn State brought many life-changing experiences. Most important, she met Arthur James Maurer, Penn State's "Mr. Agriculture," who was a judge for a "Miss Agriculture" contest that she won. He scheduled many "meetings" for the two of them to plan the next year's contest! In 1962, Ellen also was among 1,000 youth chosen for President Kennedy's summer Students in Government Program in Washington D.C., where she interned with the USDA's Motion Picture Service. As part of the internship, the 14 journalism students were invited to Kennedy's press conferences in the State Department and the Rose Garden. Graduation from Penn State in 1963 brought more adventures when she was selected for a six-month 4-H International Farm Youth Exchange program to Panama. She brought back exciting experiences of horse races, scorpions in her bed, bull riding, aggressive Romeos, and a Canal Zone War as well as a lifelong passion for international experiences.

In 1964, Rutgers University hired her as the first female 4-H agent in Hunterdon County, N.J., beginning a 41-year career in the land grant university system. On June 26, 1966, she married Art Maurer and joined him in Ithaca, New York at Cornell University, where she helped teach a feature writing class. From 1968 to 1970, a Cornell/Ford Foundation grant took them to the Philippines, where Ellen wrote radio farm news and edited textbooks while Art conducted his Ph.D. research in food and poultry science. While there, she gave birth to their daughter, Minda, on Dec. 24, 1969.

In 1970, Ellen and Art moved to Madison to careers at the UW-Madison's College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, Art as a professor and Ellen as a publications editor in the Department of Agricultural Journalism. She specialized in working with "difficult" authors, drawing on her charm, patience and persistence as well as her editorial skills.

That year they moved into their Verona home. On Jan. 24, 1974, their son Brant was born. In 1978 she began teaching courses in news and feature writing. During that time, Ellen and Art worked together on a Wisconsin/Nicaragua Partners of the Americas educational project for poultry farmers in Nicaragua that included writing a book in English, Spanish, and Miskito as well as helping to build an educational radio station. The project served as the basis for Ellen's M.S. degree from the University, which she earned in 1981. Art and Ellen remained involved in the Wisconsin/Nicaragua Partners of America program for the rest of their lives.

In 1984, they returned to the Philippines when Ellen was offered a Visiting Editor position at the International Rice Research Institute ("IRRI"). She produced an award-winning annual report and taught writing and other communications skills to IRRI researchers.

Back in Madison, Ellen resumed teaching but also continued her international work. From 1986 for 4 years, between semesters, she traveled to Liberia, Ivory Coast, Senegal and Sierra Leone to interview scientists and photograph their work to produce annual reports for the West Africa Rice Development Association. In 1990, The Gambia's Secretary of Agriculture invited her to produce a publication on their agricultural research.

From 1991 to 1995, Ellen served as communications director of a USAID-funded global Environmental Policy and Training project, where she produced more than 50 publications for distribution to governments throughout the world. In 1996, she became the communications director for the UW Land Tenure Center planning ways to reach developing countries about land issues. She worked as a science writer/editor/photographer in 14 countries.

In 1995, she returned to the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences as a senior university relations specialist to develop information campaigns for the College, prospective students, alumni, stakeholders, and the general public. She loved brainstorming new ideas for news stories, events, exhibits, and publications. She excelled at the job, which she continued until her retirement in 2005.

She received many awards for her work including her international professional group's highest award in 1996, the International Award of Excellence. She also received the College's Academic Staff Service Award in 2005. During these years she was a 4-H leader and a Girl Scout leader simultaneously for 8 years.

The mid-1990s brought two life-shattering events. In 1995 she was diagnosed with breast cancer. In 1998, after 32 years of marriage, Art Maurer died suddenly from cardiac arrest.

In the 1970s, Ellen and Art had joined a gourmet group that also included Pat and Ken Pippert. Ellen and Pat had chemo at the same time, but Pat died in 1995. Eight years later, Ellen and Ken discovered sparks! They were married May 10, 2003.

Together, Ellen and Ken enjoyed Februarys in Florida, a hot air balloon ride, travel in Spain, Portugal, and Germany, and a week at a villa in Tuscany with the gourmet group. In addition to hosting and visiting their six children and 11 grandchildren, they volunteered at Sugar Creek elementary school in Verona, gardened at home and spent much of their summers canoeing, hiking, and fishing at their lake cottage in Oneida Co. Ellen also authored three books on family history, Allbeck Genealogy, Snicklefritz, and Adventure in Panama. She also taught a Reminiscence Writing PLATO class at Capitol Lakes retirement center for 11 years and joined a Dean's committee to record the history of the College of Agricultural and Life Science.

Ellen is survived by daughter Minda Maurer, McFarland, Wis. and son Brant Maurer (Lori), Muskego, Wis.; stepsons Brian (Kalena) Pippert, Schwenksville, Pa.; Brad (Tami) Pippert, Thornton, Colo.; and Brett Pippert, Budapest, Hungary; and stepdaughter Brenda (Scott) Kreischer, Yorkville, Ill; along with grandchildren Marlee and Simon Dingle, Elsa and Owen Maurer, Elizabeth, Kim, and Brendan Pippert, Allison and Sydney Pippert, and Kylie and Colton Kreischer. She is further survived by two brothers: Lynn (Barbara) Allbeck, and Larry (Sally) Allbeck, of Millville, Pa.; and a special cousin, Allan Spotts, South Williamsport, Pa.

She was predeceased by her parents, and husband Arthur James Maurer.

A Service of Celebration for the life of Ellen A. Maurer will be held at 1 p.m., Tuesday, June 27, 2017, at Orchard Ridge United Church of Christ, 1501 Gilbert Rd., Madison, WI 53711. A gathering in the Friendship Hall will follow the Service.

Memorials may be made to Orchard Ridge United Church of Christ Landscape Fund, 1501 Gilbert Rd., Madison, WI 53711; University of Wisconsin Foundation Arthur J. and Ellen A. Maurer Extra Mile Award, 1848 University Ave., Madison, WI 53726; or Wisconsin/Nicaragua Partners of the Americas Endowment Fund, Nelson Hall, Room 129, 1209 Fremont St. Stevens Point, WI 54481.


Please share your memories of Ellen.

Cress Funeral & Cremation Service
3610 Speedway Road Madison
(608) 238-3434

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Deb Wendorf Boyke on Jul 10, 2017

I am so sad to hear this news. I had Ellen for my feature writing teacher back in the late 70's. She was an amazing writer and compassionate, energetic teacher. I will forever remember with a smile her ability to teach me how Not to use passive voice in writing. I had the chance to reconnect with Ellen a couple of years ago at a CALS Academic Staff awards event. Her infectious smile was still the same and is something I will always remember. Deb Wendorf Boyke

Liz McCarthy on Jun 27, 2017

I have so many fond memories of Ellen. I couldn't have asked for a better mentor and friend as a young professional with CALS. She taught me that kindness, a sense of curiosity, service to others, and a warm and witty sense of humor are wonderful gifts to share. What a wonderful gift she was. Liz McCarthy

Larry Meiller on Jun 27, 2017

Ellen was a wonderful person in every sense of the word. I so much enjoyed working with her and with Art. She will be much missed. Larry Meiller

Wiwid Paramita on Jun 27, 2017

It was a great honor to have known Ellen. My greatest regret is not keeping in touch with such a wonderful person, it is truly my lost. She treated Art's students like they were her own kids. She was my parent away from home. Wiwid Paramita

Kathy paton on Jun 26, 2017

I remember Mrs. Maurer as a fun lady . I have fond memories of square dances in the neighborhood . Baby sitting Minda and Brant . Her coming up to my parents house talking about flowers and herbs with my mom and dad.(Martin and Ruth Johnson) she was a part of my growing up in a wonderful neighborhood . She will be missed. So much love and respect , from Kathy (Johnson) Paton

David Derr on Jun 25, 2017

Sincere condolences to the family of Ellen Maurer from David Derr and family. Classmate from Millville High School class of 1959.

Jack & Marilyn Schairer on Jun 24, 2017

We have known Ellen since1976. Most recently, because Ellen had encouraged Jack to record his family stories which so far have almost reached 100, we purchased a copy of SNICKLEFRITZ,, a book of stories about her mother and her family to help guide us in our own endeavor. Ellen encouraged us in the positive way she always did. She was a fabulous person.She will be truly missed. The Schairers

Lynn Bradley on Jun 23, 2017

Our deepest sympathies to you and your family, Brant.We are so very sorry to hear of your Mother's passing. We hope that the good memories shared by friends and loved ones offer you comfort at this time. Tom and Lynn Bradley

Donna McDowell Beestman on Jun 19, 2017

I sandy sincere sympathy to Ellen's family. My mother Ardith McDowell and Ellen became good friends as they worked together on a Sewing Centers project for Wisconsin/Nicaragua Partners of the Americas. Ellen was a remarkable, talented woman who made an incredibly positive impact on many people locally and around the world.

Wisconsin/Nicaragua Partners on Jun 19, 2017


Peter said it best, "What a wonderful woman! Partners wouldn't have been the same without her!" Wisconsin/Nicaragua Partners would not have 62 Learning Centers in Nicaragua today, if Ellen and Doña Angelica had not started the first "Sewing Center" in 1981. Since that time, many, many women and men have received and continue to receive training and acquire technical skills that improve their quality of life. Thank you Ellen!

Barb Sanford on Jun 19, 2017

I knew Ellen as a colleague at UW Ag Journalism and a student in her PLATO reminiscence writing class. My sons and I thank her for the memoirs I produced there. Both as a colleague and teacher, she was always affable, with a ready smile and wit. Rest in peace, Ellen. You will be missed.

Melanie Waugh on Jun 16, 2017

Brant, Minda and Ken, I am so sorry to hear of Ellen's passing. She was a bright spark - a bit of magic for all of us in this world. When I started my own journey down that long road of breast cancer, Ellen presented me with one of Maya Angelou's books of simple truths - "Life Doesn't Frighten Me." I think she lived her life that way. She loved you all and we can't ask for more than that.

Linda on Jun 14, 2017

I am so sorry to hear of your loss. I recently got to know Ellen through her PLATO reminisce writing class. At 70 years young, I learned not to be afraid of writing or sharing your writing with others. Ellen gave me the confidence I needed to write my life stories. Thank you Ellen for helping me grow as a person, to put on paper those simple, but oh so meaningful thoughts. You will always be in my heart as I continue my journey of reminisce writing.

Ida Allbeck Holyfield on Jun 13, 2017

Ellen was such a wonderful inspiration to me all of my "growing up" years -- my cousin who was five years my senior, and a creative, athletic, brilliant, loyal and generous family member, daughter, sister to her brothers Larry and Lynn, mother and wife. She loved life and loved her family and friends, and she will live on always in our hearts.

Keith Steffen on Jun 13, 2017

Ellen was a wonderfully dedicated and devoted person whom we will greatly miss.

Diane Cody on Jun 12, 2017

I am very sorry to hear this sad news. My deepest sympathy to all of her family. Ellen was a kind and gentle lady whom I was so privileged to work with and call my friend.
Diane Cody

The Maurer's on Jun 12, 2017



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Orchard Ridge United Church of Christ
1501 Gilbert Rd
Madison, Wisconsin 53711
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