Annual donor leaves generous legacy behind

Donor wall at Cortellucci Vaughan Hospital showing Dr. Gayle Ellis's nameDr. Gayle Ellis was a very private person. In fact, she was so private that her friends, and co-executors to her estate, Joan Brink and Sylvia Ohlis, were surprised to learn her valued estate was close to $1.9 million and was to be donated to Mackenzie Health Foundation.

She led a full life. Dr. Ellis was a clinical psychologist who spent her life helping young offenders, and she was very active within her community.

Once retired, Dr. Ellis travelled often. Going on cruises to Hawaii or the Mediterranean with her best friend, Joan. She also volunteered her time with adult offenders and ran the weekly Bingo game for the local seniors at the club. She was well known in the community and generous with people she felt needed help. Part of that generosity came from the time she donated, but she also gave what she could, financially, as an annual donor with Mackenzie Health Foundation since 1985. So, it came as no surprise when Dr. Ellis took steps to ensure she could continue helping people long after she was gone.

Sylvia Ohlis, her friend for nearly seven decades, said that’s just how she was. The two met when they were only 18 years old. Their mothers were in the same quilting group at church. They briefly fell out of touch in their mid 20s but later reconnected. Sylvia remembers the day her friend reached out to ask if she would be the co-executor of her estate, with Joan, once she passed.

“It was an honour.” Sylvia said. “She trusted me and I felt very proud that Gayle would think of me to do that.”

Their friend Joan felt the same.

“I loved her dearly and I miss her very much,” Joan said. “I was happy to be there for her and honour this final wish.”