Ellen Powell Puts "Trust" in Le Bonheur
When Ellen Powell died in 1988, both Le Bonheur Children's Medical Center and her niece, Betty Barker, were beneficiaries of her charitable remainder trust. Betty was the income benefi ciary and Le Bonheur was the remainder benefi ciary. Betty and her daughter, Margaret Ellen Stokes, a Memphis speech pathologist, were also named co-trustees of the trust.
Ellen's story started long ago, when her family settled on a farm in Arkansas, where the Mississippi and White Rivers meet. Their farm was at the end of a road, with no way out except to turn around. Ellen eventually moved to Memphis and became an active member of the Le Bonheur Club, joining soon after the organization was founded in the early 1920s. She sewed gowns for Le Bonheur patients and surgical masks and sheets for the operating room, worked in the gift shop and operated the hospital's elevator. Le Bonheur was small then, and club members were busy all the time, recalls Gloria Andereck, a longtime club member who remembers Ellen as a very active member who hosted Le Bonheur Club meetings at her home.
Betty also grew up on the family farm in Arkansas, and when she was old enough to go to school, she was sent to Memphis to live with Ellen, her father's sister, so she could attend Miss Hutchison's School for Girls. Betty lived with her Aunt Ellen from the time she was 6 years old through her college graduation, only visiting the family farm during summer vacations and holidays.
"She just loved Le Bonheur," Betty says, whose eyes light up when she talks about her beloved aunt. "Ellen was very careful and thoughtful about everything she did. She provided me with a wonderful, loving home."
Betty remembers her aunt as independent, strong-willed and lots of fun. Ellen was married to James Powell, an insurance executive. The couple was active at the University Club and Calvary Episcopal Church, where Ellen made waffles for the Waffle Shop every Lenten season.
Ellen was an avid bridge player and taught Betty how to shoot. Ever the equestrian, Ellen loved horses and horse racing and often traveled to the family tobacco farm in Kentucky, where they also raised horses. Ellen, who never had children of her own, lost her mother from tuberculosis when she was a toddler. Ellen's husband lived to age 90, and Ellen died just shy of her 90th birthday.
"My great-aunt was very much a true southern lady," Margaret says. "She was an interesting person to be around and an exceptional role model."
"I'm very proud that my aunt's gift will help children who might not have another chance," Betty says. "It's great to have Le Bonheur in Memphis and not have to send children somewhere else for care."
Betty, Margaret and Betty's two sons, Martin and Matthew Daniel, have chosen the new Le Bonheur Gift Shop to be named after Ellen Powell.
"Ellen sometimes worked shifts in the gift shop as a Le Bonheur Club volunteer, and that makes it appropriate for her name to be associated with this," Betty says.