1984, Allie Woolford, “Granny Blue”, Bill Woolford, Carter Funeral Home, charity, Claude Ellis, Congress, congressional committee, Department of Natural Resources, descendent, Fred Woolford, funeral, Gov. Warren Hearns, Grand Gulf State Park, graveside service, Greer Mill, Greer Spring, Irish Wilderness, Jefferson City MO, Kay Ellis, Koshkonong MO, lead mining, Methodist, Missouri, Oregon County Ambulance Board, Oregon County Commissioner, Oregon County Democratic Committee, Oregon County History Club, Oregon County MO, Oregon County Sheltered Workshop, renovation, Resource Steward Award, Robert Browning, Sol Feinstone Award, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, State of Missouri, Thayer MO, the beauty of nature, Visitation
She died Nov. 11, 2016, at her home in Thayer, Mo., of natural causes at the age of 96.
She is preceded in death by her parents, Fred and Allie (Guy) Woolford; by her husband, Dr. C.H.(Claude) Ellis of Thayer; and by her beloved younger brother, Bill Woolford.
She is survived by her beloved daughter, Kay Ellis, of Thayer. She is also survived by her two nieces, Terrie (Woolford) Sanders of Grain Valley, Missouri and Karen (Woolford) Givens of Corpus Christi, Texas.
Her husband Dr. Claude Ellis was a political activist who often visited Jefferson City. For a time Dr. Ellis was chairman of the Oregon County Democratic Committee and Dorothy was a member.
Dorothy was involved in politics on the county, state and national level most of her life. She was most proud of her 14 years as Oregon County Commissioner. Initially, she was appointed to that post by Gov. Warren E. Hearns, Missouri governor from 1965 until 1973.
As an environmentalist, she was known for her help in establishing the Irish Wilderness as a federally protected wilderness area. Hearing that lead mining was planned for the area she initiated the effort and eventually persuaded a congressional committee to tour the area, and in 1984 Congress designated 16,227 acres as a wilderness. (She had asked that 50,000 acres be so designated.)
One of her proudest accomplishments was when the Grand Gulf (sometimes known as the “Little Grand Canyon”) became a reality as a Missouri State Park.
A great fan of the area for many years, her friend conservationist Leo Drey purchased the property. It was designated a National Natural Landmark in1971. In 1984 the State of Missouri agreed to take on the area as a 322-acre state park. Drey’s L-A-D Foundation would lease the area to the state. Dorothy Ellis was on the board of that foundation.
Encouraged by Dorothy Ellis, Drey’s foundation purchased Greer Mill and Greer Spring in 1987. Drey sold the area to the State of Missouri and it is now part of the Mark Twain National Forest. Greer Mill has been the object of extensive renovation. Earlier, in 1964, Drey was instrumental in the formation of the Ozark National Scenic Riverways, along the Current and Jacks Fork Rivers.
First buying timber land in 1951, Drey built his fortune by harvesting timber by selective cutting, rather than clear cutting, and when necessary using reforestation. Drey died May 26, 2015 at the age of 98.
In 1984 the Department of Natural Resources presented Dorothy Ellis with the Resource Steward Award. She was also given the Sol Feinstone Award for individual conservation activism.
Dorothy served on numerous boards and committees throughout her life, fighting for the causes that were dear to her. Among her memberships have been the Oregon County Ambulance Board and the board of the Oregon County Sheltered Workshop.
She was a member of the Oregon County History Club and was a descendent of Granny Blue.
She was an avid reader and thrived on the beauty of nature that she celebrated each day.
Dorothy was of the Methodist faith, but experienced her God and spirituality each day in the natural beauty and in her many cherished friendships and relationships that surrounded her.
Visitation and a celebration of her life with friends will be held on Tuesday, November 15, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Carter Funeral Home, 827 Chestnut St., in Thayer, followed by burial and a brief graveside service at 1 p.m. at Thayer Cemetery, just off Hwy. 63 at the Holmes Road stop light.
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In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the charity of your choice or to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. St. Jude donations can be made on line or can be left at the Carter Funeral Home of Thayer or West Plains.
“ I am grown peaceful as old age tonight. I regret little, I would change still less.” — Robert Browning
Until the shadows lengthen and the evening comes and the busy world is hushed, the fever of life is over and our work is done. Then in Thy mercy grant us a safe lodging and a holy rest and peace at the end.