Ellen Magee

Obituary of Ellen Lynch Magee

Funeral services for Ellen Lynch (McDonald) Magee, of Morristown, NY, will be held Wednesday February 26, 2020 at 10:00AM at St. John the Evangelist Church in Morristown with Rev. Christopher C. Carrara officiating. Calling hours will be held at her brother’s home at 903 Northumberland St., Morristown, on Tuesday, February 25, 2020 from 3:00PM to 5:00PM. Mrs. Magee passed on Saturday, February 22, 2020. Arrangements are under the direction of Frary Funeral Home, Ogdensburg. Ellen is survived by six daughters, Patience Bautista and her husband, John, of Plymouth, CA, Catherine McCormick and her husband, James, of Kirksville, MO, Elizabeth Travaglini and her husband, James, of Chelmsford, MA, Ellen Copeman and her fiancé Dr. Randal Place, of Morristown, NY, Clair Sever, and her husband, John of Carbondale, PA, and Susan Grandaw and her husband, Robert, of Canton, NY; and one son, James Magee, Jr. and his wife, Jennifer, of El Dorado Hills, CA; fifteen grandchildren; and several nieces and nephews. She is also survived by a brother, “Joe” McDonald of Morristown, NY. Ellen is predeceased by her parents, Albert and Susan McDonald and a sister, Catherine “Bambi” Outterson McDonald. "It was a busy year.” That’s what Ellen calmly said, while stirring a pot of parsley potatoes on the stove. Patty and Catherine were at the kitchen table. Catherine was working on a college application, when suddenly they realized that Mom and Dad had graduated from grad school, gotten married, and had Patience in a year. This was when mom said, “It was a busy year.” That was just the beginning, she went on to have many busy years. Within eleven years there were seven children, with a set of twins in the middle. Ellen and Jim both taught during this period but given the laws of the time, she had to quit every time she had a child. She worked full time, managed two homes and earned her second and third masters’ degree in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science while in pursuit of her PhD, a plan derailed by cancer, which she treated simply as a nuisance. In fact she handled her cancer diagnosis and treatment with her usual aplomb. We noticed an uptick in her church attendance, but attributed the daily mass’ to the Lenten season. She let us know just days ahead of her surgery, presumably because we might notice something amiss after the radical mastectomy. When the ladies from the support group arrived two days after surgery to find Mom already vacuuming, she wondered aloud why anyone would want to wallow in self pity. What purpose would that serve? She was always an unfailing example to her children of how to just go ahead and get on with it. Ellen McDonald Magee was born on May 23, 1936 in Ogdensburg, N.Y. She attended school in Ogdensburg with many friends and cousins. She went on to St. Lawrence University in Canton, N.Y. and while there, met James Magee, whom, due to alphabetical order, she was seated next to in math class. After St. Lawrence Ellen and Jim decided to attend graduate school together. They headed to Harvard, which at the time that meant Radcliff for Ellen. The following spring they each graduated with a Masters degree in teaching, preparing them for careers in teaching math. In short order, they got married, moved to Rhode Island where Jim had gotten his first teaching job at the Priory Preparatory School, and welcomed their first child. They moved back to Northern New York where Jim taught Mathematics at SUNY Potsdam and Ellen taught High School Mathematics at O.F.A. Ellen enjoyed considerable respect in her field and served as a grader for AP exams for the State of New York. When the children started going to University Ellen headed back with them. One year there were 5 of the 9 family members enrolled in college, one daughter finishing up, the twins half way through, another just getting started and Ellen in her graduate work. In typical form, it wasn’t enough to just be back in school in her 50’s, Ellen also taught at Potsdam High School and SUNY Potsdam during this time. Ellen had many interests outside of her academic life. Once she had retired Jim used to tease her saying, Ellen will take any job so long as it’s not paid. She served on the Morristown School Board as a member and President. She was an enthusiastic Hospice volunteer, and an active member of both St. John the Evangelist in Morristown, N.Y. and St. Andrews in Clemson, SC. She drove Minga, her wonderful Lyman, all over the river - usually packed full of kids and picnic food. If you have never experienced jumping the waves of a laker in a 22 foot wooden boat - well, you probably didn’t hang out with Ellen. In her free time, Ellen sewed. There are so many memories of the things she sewed. One year she made flannel nightgowns for all the girls (and a nightshirt for Jim). Everyone had their own fabric, the youngest got the most special one made with tiers of the fabric of the five other nightgowns and all had our names embroidered on them. She made many prom dresses. She made one daughter's wedding dress, the bridesmaids dresses for all of the Magee weddings, and for at least one of the Long weddings. And she loved to sing. Boy did she love to sing. She would hammer out Christmas carols on the old stand up piano at home, insisting that all in the family had to join in, she would lead in song on car rides to Ottawa for the ballet or the yearly back to school trip, and she sang in the choirs at both St. John's and St. Andrew's. Her heart was just huge. Enormous. She’s left us with big holes to fill, yet right now, our hearts are bursting with joy, knowing with absolute certainty that Ellen has earned her spot in heaven with a big box of chocolates and a seat right next to Jim.
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Calling Hours

3:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Tuesday, February 25, 2020
McDonald House
903 Northumberland St.
Morristown, New York, United States

Funeral Mass

10:00 am - 11:00 am
Wednesday, February 26, 2020
St. John the Evangelist Church
506 Gouverneur St.
Morristown, New York, United States
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