Shirley Ellis

June 9, 1935-January 11, 2023

As a faithful servant of God, Shirley finished her work in this world and was called home by Him at age 87. In the days prior to her peaceful passing, Shirley was visited by the majority of her family and FaceTimed the remainder, rising to the occasion to impart personalized messages to each and every one. Such treasured gifts for all! This serves as an example of Shirley’s lifelong compassion, tenacity, wisdom and golden heart.

Born in .35 to loving parents G. Ross Rains and Rosalie [Gordon] in Roswell, NM, Shirley’s core values were shaped by the expansive, tightly knit Rains and Gordon clans. Often with knee-slapping humor, they instilled in her a reverence for the Bible, the joy of togetherness, an appreciation for nature, a thirst for knowledge, an indomitable work ethic … and the simple pleasures, including gardening, fishing, fresh-squeezed lemonade and homemade ice cream.

Six years after Shirley’s birth, the family was blessed by a baby boy, Ross Lanier [Lanny], who was later diagnosed with Down Syndrome. His bright light is a direct link to Shirley’s boundless patience, advocacy, empathy and grace. Having migrated after WWII to CA, they settled first in San Francisco and later in Sacramento, where Ross and Rosalie founded The Sacramento Association for the Retarded, which enriched the lives of this special community.

While engaged in teaching her brother and volunteering with the association, Shirley shined as an exemplar student and graduated from San Juan High School with Phi Beta Kappa honors. Encouraged by the teaching staff, Shirley’s enthusiastic aspiration for higher education came true when she was accepted into a prestigious business program in L.A. Shortly thereafter, she met a handsome Marine, Ronald Ellis, whom she married in .56, and embarked upon a life of patriotism in the military … followed by motherhood.

Upon Ron’s honorable discharge, he began a career in retail management. Each promotion resulted in uprooting the family and moving throughout Northern CA. To Shirley’s credit, she managed without difficulty to make 27 lovely homes for her husband and four daughters. During this time, Shirley gave selflessly to her growing family, lighting the path to develop individual skills, talents and passions. Her last full-time employment was as an administrator to the Department of Neurology at UCD. In retirement, Shirley and Ron were beckoned to Westport, WA, for its beachside lifestyle. After her beloved husband’s untimely demise, Shirley was on the move yet again — to Poulsbo and finally onto Bainbridge. In all of these locations, she had the gift of touching people’s hearts, creating fast friendships and advocating for those less fortunate.

A burning passion was ignited in the form of travel, her favorite international trips to Israel and Australia. When encountering serious health ailments, with grim diagnoses, Shirley’s fighting spirit prevailed, earning her the moniker “Miracle Mom.” Truly miraculous in every way, Shirley will be remembered for her radiant beauty … from the inside out!

She is survived by daughters Jeanette Ellis Float [Jeff], Linda Ellis Stevenson [Greg], Charlene Ellis Stoner [Wayne] and Dolores Rae Ellis; grandchildren Nicholas Stoner [Kristine], Keith Stoner, Michael Tuffli Stevenson [Rebecca], Anne Stoner, Aidan Young and Olivia Young; great-granddaughter Kathryn Stoner; and many adored extended family members. Now reunited in heaven, Shirley joined parents Ross and Rosalie; brother Lanny; husband Ron; grandson Robert Stevenson; and the large, loving Rains, Gordon and Ellis clans.

Shirley’s family cordially invites you to her Celebration of Life at Island Church, 9624 Sportsman Club Road NE, on 1.28.23 at 2 pm. In lieu of flowers, they welcome donations to Island Volunteer Caregivers: 47 Finch Place SW, No. 4, Bainbridge Island, WA, 98110 or online at