Ellen was born in Binghamton, New York and had a happy life growing up in Windsor, NY. Her parents were Ivon Joseph Silvernail and Lillian Loveland Ruland both of whom are predeceased. In 1959 she left for the University of Buffalo where she received a BA and an MA in English. She leaves behind her husband, David, brother Wells, children Peter Kaufman, Kelly Valdez (nee Kaufman), Kris Stotz, Derek Stotz and Terence Stotz, nine grandchildren and two great- grandchildren.
Ellen’s first marriage was to Peter Kaufman. They moved to New Jersey, Texas, and S. Carolina, where Ellen taught high school English while Peter finished his training in oral surgery. Eventually settling in Ithaca, NY, Ellen was one of the founding members of the first Montessori school in Ithaca. Ellen enjoyed teaching and, as was her nature, she often reached out to less privileged students and those that needed extra help.
Later, as a single mom, Ellen taught in the Groton School District while lovingly doing all she could to give her children a full and happy life. Ellen’s home was often a haven for children struggling with difficult home situations. She gave them love, help and a safe place in her home to simply be themselves. These now grown children continue to love her and still refer to her as “mom”.
In 1982 Ellen’s close friend, Nancy Gersh, asked if she would like to meet someone who she knew. Ellen consented, and subsequently a beautiful, deep and long-lasting love affair started between her and David Stotz, a single parent raising three sons. Marriage followed in 1983. Ellen embraced David’s three boys as if they were her own. She never used the word “stepson.” To Ellen they were simply her sons. She loved them deeply and without reservation. She celebrated their successes and helped and encouraged them in their failures. There was simply no space between David’s boys and her children. David is forever grateful.
In 1990 Ellen received an MA degree in social work from Syracuse University. She was a well-regarded family therapist for Ithaca’s Family and Children’s Service where she touched the lives of many people. Later, Ellen was in private practice.
Ellen really loved people and always avoided judging others. In conversation with her one always felt that she was focused entirely on you. She rarely advised, counseled or directed. She listened with kindness and empathy, and you always knew she understood. That’s one of the qualities that made Ellen such an amazing grandmother, a role that Ellen cherished.
Tragically, Ellen had many health problems. The worst was a back injury she incurred in the 1970’s, which caused incurable and severe pain that was always present and got progressively worse. In 2015 she was almost completely limited to a wheelchair. Her husband, David, was always her loving caregiver. When she needed assistance never once did David fail to hear her begin with “please” and end with “thank you". She never demanded anything. She always voiced her appreciation and often worried that David was overburdened with her care.
Ellen was a strong, determined woman. In the company of others she never complained about, or even mentioned, the extreme physical pain she always had. She did not want pity nor did she want pain to dictate how she lived her life.
Ellen’s life ended peacefully on November 5, 2022, at Hospicare, with her loving husband, David, and her granddaughter, Lillian, by her side. After almost 45 years, Ellen is at last pain free. Her family and those she touched will always remember her as an incredibly brave, loving, and giving person. We will always love her, remember her and be very thankful that she was a part of our lives.
Due to the pending holidays and difficult winter travel conditions a celebration of Ellen’s life will be held on April 15, 2023. More details will follow by email. If you wish to provide your email address please contact David at firstname.lastname@example.org.