Ellen Frances Pillard died on October 8, 2020, at the Converse Home in Burlington, Vermont. Daughter of Basil and Lilian Pillard, she was born in Yellow Springs, Ohio, on July 9, 1938. She attended Bryan High School, graduated from Antioch College in 1960, and earned her Master’s in Social Work from the University of Washington in 1967.
Ellen moved to Reno to direct a home for differently abled adults. In 1972, she joined the faculty of the University of Nevada at Reno as a professor in the School of Social Work. She was involved in the establishment of a Women’s Studies program at UNR in the 70’s and 80’s and taught some courses in that department. She was a popular teacher, winning the Alan Bible Teaching Excellence Award in 1986. Ellen was an outspoken feminist, member and supporter of the LGBT community, and a Board member of the Nevada AIDS Foundation. Her academic work derived from her commitment to empowering women. Her published research was based on interviews with women working legally as prostitutes under the highly restrictive Nevada state regulations. She chaired the UNR Faculty Senate during 1992-93.
Ellen loved nature. She hiked and camped in the mountains, deserts, and canyons throughout the West. She was a longtime member of the Sierra Club, chair of the Toiyabe Chapter, and served a term on the Sierra Club’s Board of Directors. She was familiar with and supportive of Native American culture in the West.
Ellen also loved Vermont. She spent vacation time there with friends and family before moving to Converse Home in 2016. Our family is deeply moved by the outstanding care and kindness provided to our dear Ellen by the Converse Home community and Amanda Swevens of Inspiration to Independence. All who knew Ellen will remember her zest for life, love of meeting new people, and the twinkle in her bright blue eyes.
Ellen is survived by her brother, Richard C. Pillard, her nieces, Victoria Pillard, Cornelia T. L. Pillard, Elizabeth Jane Pillard, and by six grand nieces and nephews. Ellen will be cremated and her ashes buried in the family plot at Grandview Cemetery in Charlotte Vermont. A memorial service will be arranged. Donations in her memory may be made to the Sierra Club. The family also invites you to share your memories and condolences by visiting www.awrfh.com.