Ellen Marie La Luzerne was born on the 24th of March 1957 in Green Bay, WI to John and Constance La Luzerne. As her oldest sister, Susie, said – she was their little bird.
She showed her rebellious streak early as evidenced by the most mutinous face you’ve ever seen on a kindergartner, after her mother gave her “the worst haircut ever”.
She graduated from East High School (Green Bay) in 1975. She quickly realized for her political rabble rousing to flourish she needed to be in the thick of things and joined Susie at UW-Madison. She graduated with a Bachelor’s in Communication Arts (82’) and met the man who would become her husband, Kim “Mik” Clayton.
She was organizing for the tenants’ union when she met Mik. She told the story that she fell in love with him after watching how kind he was to kids. However, Susie and Ellen’s reputation for throwing epic parties may have also contributed to how they ended up together.
While working on her Masters in Industrial Relations she committed her favorite act of rebellion with the Vince Ramos Brigade and went on a trip to Cuba, which, back then, wasn’t allowed. While there, she broke her arm and from then on made sure you knew that universal health care should be a global right – which, it should.
1987 was a busy year for Ellen, she finished her Masters, got married and had her unplanned first kid, Maria – her alien baby, she always said it felt like there was an alien inside her.
She spent the next four years organizing for SEIU Local 150, and 1199 United Professionals for Quality Health Care. The natural progression of organizing took her to WEAC where she fought for teacher’s rights for the next 22 years.
1994 brought about the second biggest surprise of her life after Maria, Sam. Sam was unplanned, two weeks early and gigantic.
Her unerring gumption meant a new baby didn’t slow her down in the least and she started a 27-year stint volunteering at WORT 89.9 FM, where she channeled her passion for labor relations into Labor Radio, and more recently, Her Turn.
In the last ten years she had been in a self-renaissance, she poured her love of reading into her book club, her lipedema was under control, and she was in the best shape of her adult life through her yoga, walking the bups (the brother pups – Otto and Buster) and biking. And to top it all off she got two more degrees in IT after collective bargaining became obsolete. She was so proud to be in the male dominated, “young person” field of IT.
The common theme here is that Ellen helped those who help others. She was the most kind and giving person you could meet. Her favorite thing to say, with her mutinous glare, was “I’m NOT that nice.” But her actions and her passion for helping and supporting everyone around her, from the most underrepresented community, to the person in the apartment next door, spoke to her unrelenting empathy for others.
The third most surprising thing of her life happened in the winter of 2021, this horrific thing called cancer. Cancer isn’t fair, it has taken far too many lives that were yet to be lived. She had so many things left to do, so many rebellions to start. She passed away Friday, April 14th, 2023 with Sam holding her hand and Maria kissing her forehead.
She was the best mommy in the whole wide world.
Ellen is survived by her husband, Mik Clayton, her daughter, Maria LaLuzerne, and her son, Sam Clayton; her sisters and brothers: Susie La Luzerne, Paul (Jane) La Luzerne, Ann
(David) Vandenack, Anthony La Luzerne, George (Valerie) La Luzerne; her best friend Mary Louise Griffin; and many beloved cousins, nieces and nephews, in-laws, and family. She is preceded in death by her father John William La Luzerne and her mother Constance Anne (Coorlim) La Luzerne.
The family would like to thank her oncology team, her nurses at UW-Hospital (David, Sue, and Dana). And to remind everyone of the importance of hospital staff, the janitors, the nurses, the transport team; the care we receive from these selfless people doesn’t get recognized until you’re in a crisis. We firmly believe that Ellen’s cancer diagnosis would have been far less dire if she hadn’t missed several check ups due to covid, please get vaccinated.
In lieu of flowers please send a donation to The Goodman Community Center – goodmancenter.org/donate. Either with your time or money.