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Memorials: Orange Grove Friends Meeting

Ellen Weis

Date of birth

May 14, 1957

Date of death

July 27, 2021


Orange Grove Friends Meeting

Memorial minute

Ellen Havre Weis was a sparkling light of infectious enthusiasm for those who knew and loved her. She was born in Trenton, New Jersey on May 14, 1957 and raised in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania. She enrolled at the University of Iowa in 1975 to study writing and later moved to San Francisco where she co-founded the Museum of Modern Mythology in 1982 with two associates. The museum presented a historical and psychological context to modern pop culture, a concept that wasn’t widely understood at the time.

“Human beings need immortal characters to help interpret what’s happening to them,” Weis told the Los Angeles Times in a 1987 article about the museum. “Why is the Jolly Green Giant so popular? You can say it’s a very good marketing campaign, but what does that mean? I think subconsciously it refers back to the lore of the giant. All these characters refer to age-old archetypes in our hearts.”

Ellen married Gordon Whiting in 1996 and they shared a joyful life in Marin, Berkeley, and Oakland during which they welcomed their beloved son Benjamin in 2001.

Ellen expressed that Quaker traditions of non-violence, fairness, and spiritual simplicity resonated with her. She had an early introduction to Quakerism though attending and graduating from Scattergood Friends School in Westbranch, Iowa where she attended the Iowa City Friends Meeting. Later she attended meetings in San Francisco, Marin and Berkeley and recently decided that membership was an appealing next step in her journey. She became a member of Orange Grove Monthly Meeting in 2021 along with her husband Gordon.

Ellen’s brilliance in finding depth and meaning in the commonplace experiences of daily existence was expressed in the profound energy and focus she brought to her life. A conversation with her was never boring and her wide open eyes and fast, heartfelt and wide ranging communication style meant that every friendly get together was an energetic and sometimes pleasantly dizzying inspiration that could stay with you for days.

She was frequently employed in the field of PR and later spent several years with the magazine Bay Nature as their advertising manager. She took pride in the organization and identified with its mission of connecting people with the natural world.

Ellen was a tireless force for good in the world and a loving presence as a beloved mother, wife, sister, daughter and friend. Her energy lifted the intellectual and personal spaces she inhabited and her easy laugh could be heard across vast areas. Her resonance echoes out in the lives of those she touched and the treasure of her gift dwells in their hearts.