Gelene Duncan Ellsworth
Gelene Duncan Ellsworth
  • December 31, 1940 - November 12, 2017
  • Columbia, South Carolina

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COLUMBIA - Surrounded by her loving family, Gelene Alderman Duncan Ellsworth went to join her Savior on Sunday, November 12, 2017, after an extended illness. A private family burial will take place at Elmwood Cemetery on Thursday, November 16, and visitation will follow from 5:00-7:00 p.m. in Jackson Hall at First Presbyterian Church, 1324 Marion Street, Columbia.

Born in Columbia on New Year's Eve, 1940, Mrs. Ellsworth was the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Owen Alderman Duncan (Harriet Mood Scarborough). She was the paternal granddaughter of the late Hon. and Mrs. Walter Edward Duncan (Bessie Davis Alderman) of Aiken and the maternal granddaughter of the late Hon. and Mrs. William Rogers Scarborough (Rosa Clarendon Mood) of Bishopville. Her paternal grandfather owned the Aiken Standard and later served as Comptroller General of the State of SC, and her maternal grandfather was Mayor of Bishopville. She was named for her uncle's wife, Gelene Stallworth Scarborough, whom the family adored.

Surviving are her much-beloved husband of almost 42 years, Carl Anthony Ellsworth of Columbia; her daughter, Ashleigh Duncan Ellsworth-Keller (David) of Burlington, VT; her son, LT CMDR, US Navy, Carl Anthony Ellsworth, Jr. (Kristen), of Anacortes, WA; her brother, Dr. Walter Rogers Duncan (Elizabeth) of Columbia; her brother-in-law, Dr. John Robert Ellsworth (Mary Dozier) of Lexington; her mother-in-law, Mrs. Raymond R. Ellsworth of Columbia; her nephew and nieces, Ryan McIan Ellsworth of Lexington, Lindsay Ellsworth Sadler (Jamie) of Lexington, and Rachel Cannon Duncan of Columbia; and her Goddaughter, Julie Weston Daniels of Charleston. She also is survived by two beloved grandchildren, Carl Anthony Ellsworth, III, and Rowan Augusta Ellsworth-Keller.

She graduated from Dreher High School, attended Converse College, and graduated from the University of South Carolina. At the University, she was a member of Chi Omega and Angel Flight and was chosen Sweetheart of Sigma Chi. She was the May Court Honor Attendant and was named "Miss Carolina" in a penny-vote contest, with the monies collected going to the Foreign Students' Association. She was also one of twenty contestants in the Best-Dressed Coed Contest, sponsored by Glamour magazine. Her close friend Mary Anne Easterling Haden won and went on to be one of the 10 best-dressed coeds in the U.S.

In the summer of 1963, she attended the Sigma Chi Eastern Regionals in Greensboro and was chosen Regional Sweetheart over five other Sweethearts, all representing NC schools. It pleased the USC Sigma Chis a great deal that they won over all the Tarheels!

She worked in the Washington Office of US Senator James Strom Thurmond beginning in 1964, the year he changed parties, and later was Administrative Assistant to Carroll Ashmore Campbell in the office of SC Governor James Burrows Edwards. She was formerly a flight attendant for Pan American World Airways (Pan Am), the premier international airline in the world at the time (which all the old movies will show--it also brought the Beatles from London to New York). She was based in New York City, traveling to Europe, South America, and the Caribbean. She also taught at James Island High School in Charleston and was the Alumnae Director at Converse College in Spartanburg.

As she has long told her friends, "I had some great opportunities for careers, but what I really always wanted was to be a wife and mother."

She was a member of The Columbia Ball and The Quadrille and a member and officer of The Columbia Garden Club, of the National Society of Colonial Dames in the State of South Carolina, Columbia Committee, and of the English-Speaking Union of the U.S., Columbia Branch. She was very active in the Converse College Columbia Council, which she served as president, and the Chi Omega Alumnae Association. She was a member of the Richland County Legal Auxiliary, City Panhellenic, the Silver Society, and Clan Donnachaid (Duncan) Scottish Society, Int. She represented the USC Class of 1964 for the Carolina Scholars.

For many years, she was a member of Ebenezer Lutheran Church, where she served on numerous committees, taught Sunday School, and at one time chaired The Order of St. John (Acolytes and Crucifers). She was named an Honorary Member of the Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary Auxiliary and belonged to Hannah Circle of the Lutheran Church Women. In later years, she and her husband became members of First Presbyterian (ARP) Church.

Mrs. Ellsworth served on the PTO boards of Brennen, Crayton, and A.C. Flora Schools. She volunteered with the Junior Girl Scouts at Shandon United Methodist Church, the Soup Kitchen at Washington Street United Methodist Church, and the Shandon and Kilbourne Park Neighborhood Councils.

One of Mrs. Ellsworth's greatest joys was seeing old friends and to that end was instrumental in the planning of many reunions for her classmates and colleagues from Dreher, Converse, USC, and The Strom Thurmond Alumni Association. She also co-chaired the 50th anniversary of her Chi Omega chapter, Eta Gamma, in 1978, while she served as advisor to the collegiate members of the chapter. In 1995, she represented the chapter (the only alumna from USC to attend) at National Chi Omega's Centennial at the University of Arkansas, where the sorority was founded.

In 1997, she joined Eta Gamma's Housing Corporation, which began raising funds to build a sorority house in the Greek Village at the University. In 2003, this goal was met, and the house was dedicated during the chapter's 75th anniversary. Mrs. Ellsworth served as first secretary of the corporation.

She served a term as Vice-President of the Alumnae Association of Converse College, then as a Decade Chair and later as the Chair of the Records and Recognitions Committee of the Alumnae Board. She also served two five-year terms each as her Class Representative and Fund Chair.

While their son was attending the U.S. Naval Academy, she and her husband were co-presidents of the SC Naval Academy Parents' Club, representing SC at events in the state and in Annapolis. They belonged to "Safe Harbor," an organization offering assistance to Academy Midshipmen hurt or stranded in the area. On one occasion, they were called upon to help two young men who