Remembrance of Ella Massey Pascale
July 20, 1927 to June 28, 2020
Ella Massey Pascale passed away in her apartment at Virginia Mennonite Retirement Community on Sunday, June 28th, less than a month short of her ninety-third birthday, after complications from a fall, and perhaps, a small stroke about the time of the fall. Three members of her family gathered around, singing fifteen or twenty of her favorite hymns and songs. We believe she ended her life as we sang A Mighty Fortress, Great is Thy Faithfulness, and her campfire favorite, Kumbaya. When we were not singing, we played a recording of other hymns, performed on the piano by cousin Sandy Searing. Mother often said that we could skip all the talking at her memorial service and just work our way through the hymnal.
Ella’s husband, Elmo, read her Psalms, said several prayers, sang songs with his family, and whispered loving comments into her ear.
If you are reading this you probably already know Ella’s great passions in life — equality, ending racism, ensuring peace and justice, supporting mental health, helping refugees, living her faith, teaching her college students, and, of course, working for Democratic candidates. She liked to say she was a Sermon on the Mount Christian, because when she encountered intolerant comments from someone that she knew embraced the Christian faith, she would gently ask “…but can you tell me what part of the Sermon on the Mount you do not understand?” And, yes, she asked this question many times.
She knew three Senators well, two of them, Senator Charles Percy (R-IL) and Senator Paul Simon (D-IL), on a first name basis. She worked her magic in six presidential campaigns and treasured her photos with two of the winners. She volunteered in four successful Virginia governors’ campaigns and countless others in Illinois.
In the last few years voting rights was a huge concern of hers, and, though she was too frail to do it herself, her message to others was to help register voters (join the League or Women Voters, she would say), help voters get to the polls, and contribute generously to the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, which she did every year. If you want to honor her memory, go and do likewise.
Ella was a person who accomplished things, and these past four years have been difficult and frustrating because her declining health kept her from doing them. The staff who assisted at the VMRC Crestwood community was phenomenal at helping her remain positive. And people we encounter from all ports of her life — from way back in Illinois, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, and in her beloved Harrisonburg, Virginia — still go and on about the impact she has made and how much they admire her.
She is survived by husband Rev. Elmo Pascale, age 97, daughter Marti Weston (Rich), granddaughter Rachel Linnemann (Michael), and two great grandchildren, one of whom is her namesake. Thank you to all who have worked with her, learned from her and with her, worshiped with her, and helped with her try to make the world a better place.
Because of the CoVid-19 pandemic, there can be no memorial service at this time. The family may schedule a Zoom service of remembrance in the near future, and we will post information on Ella’s Facebook page and on Marti’s.
If you knew Ella well and would like to make a memorial contribution, of course she specified several of the organizations that she loved.
— Center for Justice & Peacebuilding at Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, VA
— Virginia Mennonite Retirement Community Foundation Crestwood Nursing Education Fund in Harrisonburg, VA
— NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund — William Jewell College Scholarship Fund in Liberty, Missouri
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