Ellen Langill, a historian and teacher, passed on Aug. 16, 2022, in Waukesha, WI, where she’d lived since the 1970’s.
Ellen wrote more than 30 books on the history of our state’s businesses and community service organizations and crafted a bit of whimsy too. Ellen’s first book, “Pompey Poems Celebrating a Cat” told amusing antics of the family’s beloved cat “Pompey”.
Her award winning book, “Foley and Lardner: Attorneys at Law 1842-1992” told the history of this Milwaukee law firm, the oldest continuous legal firm in Wisconsin. She co-authored the 1996 illustrated book “Milwaukee 150, The Greater Milwaukee Story” and wrote two histories of Carroll University: “Carroll College: The First Century 1846-1946” and its second volume, published this summer, “Legend and Legacy Carroll University at 175, 1846-2021.”
Ellen earned a bachelor’s degree in classics and Latin at Grinnell College in Iowa and a doctorate in American Intellectual History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Motivated, thorough, and friendly, Ellen relished sharing her enthusiasm for history with others. Teaching, sharing and preserving history were some of her greatest passions. Ellen taught history for nine years at Carroll University, seven years at UW-Waukesha, and over 20 years at UW-Milwaukee. She served on the board of curators of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin and chaired this board as president for three years. She served on the Governance Committee of the Wisconsin Board of Historic Preservation and for 16 years, she managed National History Day for the southeastern Wisconsin region- a day dedicated to teaching and inspiring interest in history in high school students.
Ellen enjoyed her career and treasured her family. Her commitment to her community was often inspired by her commitment to her family and was fueled by her love of being active. She coached basketball, tennis, and field hockey at Univeristy Lake School, was an active Girl Scout troop leader for both of her girls.
Passionate about education, women’s rights, and community service, Ellen was an active board member and president of many community enrichment organizations for over four decades. Dedicating her time and energy to organizations with missions that were close to her heart, Ellen served on the Waukesha United Way, the Waukesha School Board, the Women and Girls Fund of Waukesha County, the Waukesha Women’s Center, and the Ideal Club of Waukesha (to name a few). She was also a founding member, and former president of the Waukesha Education Foundation.
During the 2020 pandemic shutdowns, Ellen’s dedication to community service crossed state lines. She organized a fund raising effort to support a food assistance program that her daughter, Kjersten, was working on in San Diego, CA. Her substantial efforts helped get much needed food and resources to seniors and families in crisis.
In recognition of her decades of service, Ellen was the recipient of several awards. Most notably, Todd Weir Volunteer Award from Greater Milwaukee Chapter of Association of Fundraising Professionals (2011), the Community Leader of the Year Award from United Way of Waukesha County (2012), Women of Distinction Award from the Women and Girls Fund of Waukesha County (2019), and Wall of Distinction at her Alma mater Webster Groves High School in St. Louis, MO (2021).
Her survivors include her dear husband of 54 years, Ross Langill, Chairman and CEO of Regal Bay Investment Group LLC, and their daughters Kjersten Langill of San Diego, and Kari Langill of Waukesha.
A gathering in honor and memory of Ellen will be from 5 to 7 pm Thursday, Sept. 29, at the Southminster Presbyterian Church, 200 Richard Street, Waukesha WI.
In lieu of flowers, the family welcomes a donation be made in Ellen’s memory. The family offers the following suggestions of non-profit organizations that were dear to Ellen: the Wisconsin State Historical Society Foundation, the Women and Girls Fund of Waukesha County, Southminster Presbyterian Church, and/or Jewish Family Service of San Diego.