Ellen Louise (Hendrickson) Bresee was born in Puyallup, Washington, USA, January 15, 1928, and died peacefully in her sleep, July 13, 1997, after a twelve-year battle (including 60 months of chemotherapy treatments) with cancer.
Ellen met her husband, Floyd, former Secretary of the Ministerial Association at Walla Walla College and joined her life and ministry with his on September 5, 1948. Together, they served as instructors at Columbia and Laurel wood Academies and in pastorates throughout Oregon; Lincoln, Nebraska; and Keene, Texas. There, Ellen served as Family Life Director for the Southwestern Union. They also served on the staff of Union College, Lincoln, Nebraska, for 16 years.
For ten years, concluding with their retirement in 1992, Ellen and Floyd served the Ministerial Association of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists where she, along with Marie Spangler, founded Shepherdess International, the entity of the Association which provides nurture, encouragement, and training resources for ministers' wives. In fact, it is fair to say that Shepherdess International would not exist if it had not been for Ellen's determination and tenacity.
Ellen received the President's Award from the Association of Adventist Women in 1992, and she was chosen as Woman of the Year for Church Life in 1995. The plaque which honored her reads, "for undaunted spirit, validating and enhancing the work of ministers' wives, worldwide."
Ellen, a mother and homemaker at heart, is survived by her husband, Floyd; her mother, Opal Hendrickson; her only brother, Larry Hendrickson; one daughter, Tamara; three sons: Terry, Ted, and Tim along with his wife, Wendy; and two grandchildren: Katie and Lily.
During memorial services, July 14, at Medford, Oregon, Ellen was eulogized by Bruce Johnston, former president of the North Pacific Union. Special tribute to her ministry was presented by current Shepherdess Coordinator, Sharon M. Cress, and Ministerial Association Secretary, James A. Cress. Alf Birch, of the Oregon Conference, also paid tribute to her influence in the conference where Ellen and Floyd had retired.
Only in eternity will the full impact of Ellen's selfless life and devoted ministry be fully comprehended. Until that glad resurrection, the influence of her life will be continually felt in the lives of pastoral families around the globe. "Even so come quickly, Lord Jesus!"
Sharon's Tribute at Ellen's Funeral
"On behalf of pastors' wives around the world, I would like to pay tribute to Ellen.
Shepherdess International would not exist if it had not been for Ellen's vision. Along with Marie Spangler, they began the uphill struggle to bring Shepherdess International into a regularized ministry. As a pastor's wife herself, Ellen knew the unique challenge these special women face everyday, and she sought to organize a nurturing entity for them.
It took tenacity and fortitude, and she related to me that there were deep valleys of frustration and discouragement when some church leaders did not share her dream.
Ellen persevered. Shepherdess International was officially organized and became the tool to enable these special women to become "paraprofessionals," a word she loved to use.
In the last four years, I have followed Ellen's footsteps and around the world, pastors' wives always express their love and appreciation for her ministry to them. She was a mentor and role mode] to so many.
On a personal note, when Ellen retired and I was asked to assume the work of serving these thousands of clergy spouses, I had no idea what to do. Gracious, unselfish, Ellen spent a couple of days tutoring me. She left me all her files, notes, records, and seminar outlines. And she never looked back to judge how I carried on her dream. She also told me who some of the snakes were and how to avoid being bitten and poisoned by their venom!
I'm looking forward to seeing Ellen again at Jesus' great fellowship dinner—the one where the pastors' wives neither cook nor clean up! Who can find a virtuous woman? We found Ellen, and she was worth far more than jewels. The sparkle of her life lives on in the faces of the women she met and inspired." *