Eller Chronicles NOV 1988 - p1

Cont'd from p. 104, Vol. II, No. 3


Jay Vernard Eller Part III


During WW II years, Eller worked for the Wenatchee Y.M.C.A. inaugurating programs that would present a daddy image for those children whose fathers and big brothers were away serving the nation. He planned "day programs" that took them into the surrounding hills for nature study. He took them to the "Wenatchee Gun Club" grounds as an alternative to using their BB guns on forbidden objects. They swam in the Y pool, some days after goldfish had been dumped in the pool. Each swimmer could take home the fish he could catch. He took them on fishing trips in the quiet water of Three Lakes. That they might see how the other half lives, Eller took the youngsters down to the river banks' "hobo jungle." The children brought vegetables from home, and the group cooked "stew" as the hobo's did. By taking the youngsters there at noon there were very few hobos present at that hour. Those that were, were always polite and gentle to the childish visitors.

The father image was so needful in their lives that many of them simply wanted to walk along holding Eller's hand. To accommodate them all, ten at a time could walk with him, one child on each finger. After a certain distance the "holders' were changed.

The "Y" camp at Lake Wenatchee was closed, but some of the youngsters were old enough for more than "day camping" Gasoline was rationed. As a preacher at Peshastin, Eller had an "A" card for gasoline. He did not use his gas to drive to his pulpit. He rode the Great Northern train one way and the Greyhound bus the other. He could use his car then for the summer "Y" camp.

The plan was for all the boys to buy tickets on the train to a station nearest the camp (Telma or Winton); ride the train with all their personal baggage. Eller would load the food and camp stuff in his car, drive to the "Y" camp, unload it and go to the train to meet the boys. There Eller loaded the boy's luggage and as many boys as he could in his car. The rest he headed towards camp walking. They played a leap frog type of walking and riding until all were in camp. Eller would haul the first contingent of boys past those who were walking for a specified distance and put them out to walking. Then he would go back and pick up the walkers, take them by car past the second unit, put them out to walking again, and go back for the walking group to ride for awhile. All of them were at the "Y" camp in due time, in good spirits. No one walked more than half way.

After Eller was retired from teaching in 1967 he had offices at the Wenatchee Y first for the Wenatchee Council of Churches and then he was designated as a P.R. man. He would have gone to the "Y" the day of his final hospitalization, except that it was the 4th of July and the "Y" was closed. He died on July 30th 1978.



The only thing these disciplines have in common is their alliteration. Eller was deep into the first two, but only into the third in a minor way. He was chairman for a group organized for "Better Government." The group was active only long enough to attain their specific goal, then disbanded.

Eller was appointed by two different Washington governors, of opposite parties, to serve as one of the State's representatives on the "White House Conference on Youth." He served several terms on the committee of the "State of Washington Educational Association for Teacher Tenure." Eller was also recognized by the law enforcement branch of the city's government. He acted as advocate for some youths who had occasionally gotten out of bounds. Eller also arranged for some adults serving sentences at the jail to put their time to good use, taking some "off campus" studies. He brought them text books and help if they needed it in the subject studied.

One day at the Y.M.C.A. a young man walked in off the street asking for any information available on "Alcoholics Anonymous." The man said that he had lost several jobs because of his drinking problem. It seemed as if he would be losing his wife and child if he did not get help. It was ascertained that there was no A.A. group in Wenatchee. The decision was that since everyone knew that Eller did not drink, he needed no anonymity. He offered to let his name and phone number be used in public advertising in the process of getting an A.A. group started in Wenatchee. it was done and the first work with A.A. was begun.

Eller was also a counselor for Boy Scouts, particularly their examiner/teacher for merit badges. He also served as president of Wenatchee's Ministerial Council for some years. Eller led the youth of the major Protestant Churches in Wenatchee to hold their Sunday evening services together, whenever a fifth Sunday of the month occurred. The youth sponsored Easter Sunrise Services at Ohme's Gardens, which after some years, was turned over to other groups. It has become a tradition in the valley, The section of the U.S. Army that was stationed here for training in the early 1940's became an active part of the Sunrise Services.

Eller was active in the Wenatchee "Y's" beginning the first program for senior citizens. The group met in the building owned by the "Y," and preceded the work that is now federally funded. Here he worked with Sister Olive Malthison who helped to inaugurate the "Meals on Wheels" program for the elderly shut ins. She was recalled by her Mother Superior. It was deemed not fitting to be employed doing work that her order was pledged to do as charity. The name change of "Mobile Meals" brought the work under volunteers, among physicians' wives.


After Eller's retirement in 1967 he was appointed by yet another governor to the Chelan/Douglas County Board of Health and Human Services, which he served until his death in 1978.

Before there was such a service as a blood bank in Wenatchee, Eller became one of the "walking blood donors." When the need arose, he was summoned from his home or school to the hospital to provide blood for patients matching his blood type.

In 1957, the Wenatchee "Y" honored Jay Eller as the "Man of the Year." This came as a sudden surprise. In 1953 Eller's Alma Mater, McPherson College, honored him with an honorary Sc. D. degree, Doctor of Science. During the same spring, a young Washington friend graduated in Chicago with a doctoral degree. As they met they were congratulating each other on the accomplishment, Eller replied, "that his degree was an honorary one, while Tom had earned his!"

The man corrected Eller, "No, I got my degree by just hitting the books for a few more years. You earned yours by thirty years of serving the people and causes in the Wenatchee Valley.

When Eller was member of the Wenatchee Exchange Club that met each week in regular sessions, the Exchange men set up a Wenatchee Valley Eller Science Scholarship" for persons studying in the science field. The Exchange Club has carefully financed such even now. The recipient is selected by a college committee.

The licenses for hundreds of persons at whose marriage Eller had officiated, and the records of the many whose funeral service he had conducted were turned over to the Wenatchee Genealogical Society after his death.

In May of 1975, the local church honored the Golden anniversary of Eller's ordination to the ministry. friends came not only from his home church, but from out of town pastorates and other local congregations. Jay was very much touched by their presence.

With all these various activities, mostly at the confluence of the Wenatchee and the Columbia Rivers, over a span of fifty-two years one might label Eller as a "workaholic." For recreation, and change of pace, his wife designed and he cared for, an acre of E. Wenatchee former orchard property. This was done in spite of the fact that the local agriculture agent said it could not be done. When developed, it furnished Christmas trees for some of the merchants in town and drew the admiration of a former nursery-stock salesman and an employee of W.S.U. Horticulture Experiment Station. The Ellers identified more than 70 species of birds, on or about their acre.

Jay Eller had decided when his brother Dan died so young, he would dedicate himself to living for two. Eller was less of a workaholic than he was a craftsman practicing his craft. His love of people and finding his satisfaction in aiding them to achieve their highest potential was an elixir to Eller's spirit.


Being only human, there were times that Eller was discouraged at the lack of progress or accomplishment. The load bearing heavily on mind and body, he came home to his wife who could only point out that "if things were as bad as he thought they were, for all he had given to it, just imagine how terrible they would be if he quit trying."

Many times Eller had said, "I would rather wear out than rust out," and so it was. He had been allotted seventy-nine years, and though his parts were wearing out, he had not been forced into a long period of inactivity.

When Eller retired from W.V.C. he already had a part of the campus with him. As the college began building on the Wells House site, much of the landscaping had to go. Eller rescued some rose bushes. By-standers said, "You can never make them grow. They are too big and too old." Eller said he would see what Geraldine could do with them He brought six bushes home. After cutting back their tops and dividing them into seventeen pieces they all grew. The same process occurred to save some blackberry bushes. Blackberry pickers signed up for turns at the patch, since all it cost them was the picking.

All the Eller children's families got into picking berries, which Jay pointed out to all comers were special "college bred stock." After Eller's death Douglas County road crews decided to spray the roadsides with weed-killer. It affected the Eller. plantings 50 feet from the road. The entire patch became an eyesore of dead and dying sprangled branches. So much for college breeding. It could not save the vines.


Until the 1300's people had only a given name. As the population grew, the need came to classify persons by a second, family, name. Kings began to appoint heralds to go about the land assigning surnames. It was illegal to interfere or change the work of the heralds. Thus family assignments and the coat of arms became known as "heraldry." To read the meaning of these assignments is called blazoning.

To find enough names for the population, the heralds resorted to using the father's name plus "son." Peterson, Johnson, et al. When that ran into too much repetition the naming was often tied to occupation, location or existing features.

Heraldry language was either Latin or French. The Eller assignment is in French. The title "coat of arms" came from the days of knighthood and men clad in armor. In that suit of metal, friend could not be identified from foe. On a sunny day, thus encased, it became hot!hot! Most armor clad men wore a woven coat over the iron suit to keep it from over-heating. When family names were assigned, the assigned design was put on the cloth covering and soon was called "The Coat of Arms."


In blazoning the Eller Coat of Arms, one begins at the top, called the crest. Most crests were animals, real or mythical. Sometimes the animal is crouched, sometimes erect. If erect that indication is for rank. However, the Eller crest is a pair of angel wings.

Below the crest, resting on the helmet, is a wreath or bandeau. This is six twists of the family's assigned colors. The metal twist always comes first. In the Eller coat of arms the family colors are silver and blue - argent and azure.

The Eller helmet is in profile. The visor is closed. The slits are straight. Mantling is about the helmet and the top of the shield. This is nothing more than on ornamental accessory, added for artistic effect. The shield is simpler than most: twelve blue (azure) and gold (or) sections surrounding a red (gules) center.

Having blazoned this coat of arms, what does it tell us about the first one surnamed Eller? The man was likely either parson, preacher or priest. Indication are:

  1. The crest of angel wings
  2. The shield of twelve blue and gold (azure and or) sections for twelve apostles with their lord at the center red (gate)
  3. The bandeau gives us the family colors - argent and azure.
  4. The helmet is not face-front indicating not nobility
  5. The slits indicate he did not go on the Crusades
  6. The motto further is a mark of religion, "Holiness is the shadow of virtue" or vice versa.

The fact that the language is French would have placed this family in continental Europe. Likely in Germany, near the French border. Further, it was from this area that the descendants began migrating to the American colonies ca. 1729-30.

A Brethren elder, who in turn became the Governor of Pennsylvania and Commissioner of Education in Puerto Rico once wrote that, "those who do not read the record of their ancestors, will never know what thoroughbred calves they are."

Now you can know your thoroughbredness, and more you have the family brand to prove it.

graphic of this ELLER Coat of Arms (269kb)
another rendition of the ELLER Coat of Arms (152kb)

Deep Roots

Ewald Burien, a citizen of Germany, who had visited in Wenatchee after the war, subscribed to the "Deutsch Walle" literature for Eller. This was the National German Radio Station. It broadcast a powerful signal to many countries of the world. Burien hoped it might reach Wenatchee. The magazine provided an interesting way to review the German language and learn of Germany's postwar problems and how they were solved. The actual broadcasts never reached Wenatchee.


When Geraldine wrote to thank them for the magazine, she got a long personal letter from the station.. They were interested in the Eller name. They said that not far from them was a market/village with the same name. The question was, "Is there a connection?" Perhaps, deep roots, as Jay Eller's European ancestors had come from Germany to Pennsylvania. There is a house in Germany, photographed by an American friend, that in the brick work of the gable end is the word "Eller" in huge letters and a date, several centuries old.

According to genealogies published by James Hook of Connecticut and C.E. Eller of Virginia: "The Eller family is an old and honored one in Germany in the Rhineland. The Eller estates were located near Dusseldorf and Elbfield. The name is found in distinguished places: among writers, physicians, teachers, executives. Fredrick Eller was the private physician to Frederick the Great."

"The Dusseldorf Ellers were for the most part State Church people." When the Brethren Church was established in 1708 as an aftermath of the "Thirty Years War" and "The Reformation" some of the Ellers joined the new group.

This branch of the family suffered the persecutions that drove them from Germany to Holland, from there to the new world.


After 1730 the Ellers came to America to Penn's colony, settling first in Lancaster County. This family of Ellers then moved to the Gavin's Creek area near Roanoke as the old deed books show.

Since German families tend to have as many as three generations with the same given and family names, according to writer David Eller, there were twenty adult persons who entered the colonies under the name of Eller. Two Jacob Ellers took the oath of allegiance when they arrived in Pennsylvania: one from the ship "Sally." December 31 1772; one from the ship "Favorite," September 5, 1785. The third Jacob Eller came to the colonies through North Carolina 1765.

Jay Eller's ancestor Jacob Eller and family were listed as living in Botetourt County, Virginia in the 1810 national count. There are earlier records, unverified of George Michael Eller who died in 1778 in Frederick County, Maryland, who had a brother Henry.

Tentative dates are given as 1756-1830 for Jacob Eller. His wife is always listed as Magdalene, called sometimes M. Peters.

George Eller was born near Roanoke, Virginia. His parents began moving west as the population shifted west after the Civil War, first into Illinois then into Kansas. Abram and Salome left their older children in Virginia where their descendants still live. They brought with them, George, Charles, Callie, Mary and John. George and Mary continued in Kansas while Charles, Callie and John finally stopped migrating on the edge of the Pacific in California. There John was elected to the free ministry and Charles to the deaconship in Church of the Brethren congregations in N. California.


After WW II, Abraham Eller had five great grandsons in LaVerne College at the same time: Robert and Floyd Barnhart, Vernard and Eldon Eller of Wenatchee, Washington and Marion Ross of Modesto, California.


Vernard and Geraldine, 25 ANV. CHRONICLES NOV. Cover (150kb)
Vernard, Eldon & Elfreda ELLER photo (304kb)
later photos, with spouses (184kb)

Son Vernard and wife, Phyllis, are in Laverne, California where Vernard is a professor at the University of LaVerne.

Son Eldon and wife, Margaret, are in Laguna Hills, California where Eldon is a Senior Project Engineer at Endevco Company - a high tech maker of non-desctructive testing devices.

Daughter Elfreda and husband, Fred Holmes are apple growers near Tonasket, Washington. Elfreda is part-time secretary for the pastor of the Ellisforde and Whitestone Churches of the Brethren.

The twelve grandchildren are scattered. Cynthia, Sander, Enten, Dan Bedient and Tim McFadden are still in school seeking higher degrees: Cynthia Eller is at Harvard, hoping to finish her studies for a Ph.D. in Religion. Sander Eller is at California State, Northridge, California, working for a Masters in Computer Science. Enten Eller and wife, Maria, are at Bethany Theological Seminary at Oak Brook, Illinois working toward a Ministerial degree. Dan Bedient and wife, Connie Holmes Bedient, are back in Tonasket, Washington. Rosanna Eller McFadden and husband, Tim, are at the Speedway, Indiana, where Tim is interning for a medical degree and Rosanna is marketing her talent in graphic arts.

Sylvia Eller is a librarian in Los Angeles County. Marlin Eller and wife, Mary, are in Hiroshima, Japan, where Mary is collecting radiation effects data for the Japanese and American governments. Ethan Eller and wife, Mary Sue, are in Sierra Madre, California, where Ethan works in sales. Rick Holmes and wife, Marce, are in Wenatchee, Washington. Rick works as a carpenter's apprentice and Marce works in a family grocery store, Pam Holmes Liley and husband, Dave, are also in Wenatchee, Washington. Dave is in sales and landscaping for a Garden Center; Pam is a checker at Safeway Store. Lauri Holmes Paez and husband, Johnny, are in Boulder Creek, California, where Johnny is a caretaker for an estate near Santa Cruz, California.

Beth Holmes Nonemaker and husband, Keith, are in New Cumberland, Pennsylvania. Beth is a night supervisor in a fast food chain and Keith is an instructor in a computer school.

There are ten great grandchildren: Jennifer Holmes in Tonasket, Washington; Wendy Evan and Elaine Eller in Sierra Madre, California; Rachel Eller in Duarte, California; Roxanne and Jeremy Liley in Wenatchee, Washington; William and Sarah Bedient in Tonasket, Washington. Nikki Eller is in Hiroshima, Japan.


There were no great grandchildren in the family at the time of Jay Eller's passing. How much he would have cherished and loved these could he have known them!

And Geraldine? She has lived very comfortably at "Garden Terrace,, since 1978. It is a retirement home for senior citizens sponsored by the Wenatchee Brethren Baptist Church. What a blessing it is!

Fulton Osler - Readers digest
"Your Second Job"
         Dr. Albert Schweitzer once said, "What the world lacks most today are men who occupy themselves with the need of their fellow men." This career of the spirit he called, "Your second job." Jay Eller always had a second job.

Postscript: Update from Phyllis Eller, August 5, 1988

Enten and Maria now live in Midland, Michigan, where Maria is part-time pastor, part-time student. Enten is still going to seminary at Oak Brook.

Update from Geraldine C. Eller, August 5, 1988

Dr. Sylvan Eller has been practicing medicine for several years in Indiana for some years. He is the son of Jay Vernard Eller's elder brother, Ralph and Verna Wolfe Eller.

Dr. Cynthia Eller, Ph. D. from U.S.C., is now employed by Yale University. Her field of study is "Religion and Moral Ethics". She is the youngest child of Eldon and Margaret Brubaker Eller.

Wenatchee Valley College, Sunday, May 15, 1988. On this date the new $1.5 M vocational science building was named the ELLER-FOX SCIENCE CENTER, The Eller honored on this occassion was JAY VERNARD ELLER.

(Eds. Our warmest thanks to Geraldine Crill Eller for sharing her family's history. The life of Jay Vernard Eller underscores vividly the achievements that can result from hard work and a faith rooted in family religion and traditions.

Compare Geraldine's description of the Eller Coat of Arms, pp.153-154 with Holbert's Coat of Arms , P-1 59, and a version of the Eller Coat of Arms supplied by Georg Eller of West Germany, p. l60. The Crest of the German version is described as the "wings of the stork." At least one error occurs in Halbert's Historiography. Adolphus Hill Eller was a N.C. State Senator and not a U.S. Senator.)


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