From the Spring 2018 Edition of Discovery
In Loving Memory of Peter Maring Ellis
Photo courtesy Mary-Ann Muffoletto
On December 29, 2017, longtime USU supporter and former faculty member Peter Ellis, along with friend and pilot Denny Mansell, perished in a small-plane crash near Utah’s Promontory Point.
The news left our College of Science family shaken, as we grieved for Peter and his family. Months before, our staff had enthusiastically and unanimously chosen to honor Peter as keynote speaker at our October 2017 Fall Convocation, where the college recognizesand celebrates student scholarship recipients and their donors.
Peter graciously accepted our invitation and, accompanied by his wife, Ann, and three daughters, Karen, Nancy and Sandra, delivered a heartfelt and memorable talk. Little did we know, it would be our final opportunity to enjoy a visit with Peter here on campus.
In his talk, Peter shared the story of meeting his first wife, Sharon Lee Gardner, who passed away in 1995. As one of her last wishes, Peter, who served on USU’s Business faculty from 1976 to 2010, established USU’s Sharon Lee Gardner Ellis Memorial Scholarship, aimed at providing support to students majoring in mathematics education.
Sharon, he explained, was among “the best and brightest,” and started her undergrad career at her parents’ alma mater, Utah State. Due to lack of money, she had to drop out after a year, but managed to finish her education at Portland State University, in her native Oregon. A dedicated teacher, Sharon spent most of her career teaching mathematics at Cache Valley’s Mount Logan Middle School.
“She never allowed the students to perform under their capacity,” he said. “I can still remember her sitting at the dining room table with the telephone cord pulled taut, as she talked to parents and told them how their child could perform better.”
Peter then addressed convocation guests: “I have told you of my reasons for desiring to support the activities in the College of Science at USU. I invite you to look at yourselves. Ask what it is that brings about you gratitude. You scholarship winners are going to go forth and accomplish great things in your future lives. You parents, family, and friends have had many successes in your lives, and you have accumulated significant resources. I would like you to ask yourselves what you can do to demonstrate your appreciation for the great things that have already happened here in the College of Science. Go, Aggies!”
Before Peter’s sudden passing, he expressed his dream of getting Sharon’s scholarship endowment to $200,000. He hoped the funding could pay for a student’s full tuition and fees for an entire year. If you’d like to honor Peter and Sharon, consider a contribution to the newly renamed Peter Maring Ellis and Sharon Gardner Ellis Memorial Scholarship at www.usu.edu/peterellis.
It was a privilege getting to know Peter and working with him to reach his philanthropic aims. His generous and consistent giving over the years has significantly impacted many Aggies studying mathematics education. This endowment serves as a lasting and loving tribute to Peter and his family.
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