Ellen Marie Bruns Madan was born on Shaw Island March 4, 1927 to Eber and Atlanta Bruns. When her birth was imminent, the doctor was summoned from Friday Harbor but missed the birth. It was just as well as he was heavily intoxicated upon arrival. Ellen passed away on May 20, 2021 at her home in Eastsound, Orcas Island, Washington.Ellen started school in the one-room schoolhouse on Shaw Island. The family later moved to Orcas Island where she attended the West Sound Schoolhouse. Ellen fondly recalled playing in the Deer Harbor Cannery with her brother, Don Bruns.
When her father (one of the first employees of Orcas Power and Light Company) was called to work the generators at OPALCO, the family moved to the little house on Mt. Baker Road, which also housed the offices of OPALCO, and later a dentist office. Ellen’s husband Buyral was a foreman for OPALCO, during which time Ellen answered the after-hours calls and dispatched the linemen to restore power.
Ellen worked at the Madrona Point Lodge and Buckhorn Resort during high school and graduated from Orcas Island High School with the class of 1945. She married the love of her life, Buyral Madan, on July 14, 1945. They were married two months shy of 70 years. They hosted many parties at their home and enjoyed entertaining friends and family. It was the gathering place. Christmas and Easter were especially important holidays and not to be missed.
Ellen lived a long and full life, living for her family. She was definitely the keeper of the family history. Once each week the family would gather for dinner at her home, “Family Night,” starting when the grandchildren were young and continuing for 50+ years. Friends and family were always welcomed.
One of her greatest joys was watching the grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great grandchildren enjoying their well-tended yard and orchard. Many islanders will remember the tremendous Christmas lighting display— which began in 1950 at their home on Prune Alley in the location where the Long House now stands—and continued when they moved to their home on Terrill Beach Road. Ellen was an extremely devoted wife, mother, grandmother, daughter, sister, aunt and friend and will be greatly missed.
Ellen was preceded in death by her husband of 69 years, Buyral, her parents Eber and Atlanta Bruns and her brother, Donald Bruns. She is survived by three children: Richard (Judi); Sandra Clark; and Barry (Bev); grandchildren Danielle (Tim) Porter; Troy Clark; Ren’ee (John) Welch; Tammie (Aaron) Young; Joleene (Wade) Lucas; Annetha (James) Caswell; Sonya (Jesse) James; Tony (Claire) Clark; Chris (Alyssa) Bell; Courtney (Devin) Bell; twenty-six great-grandchildren, three great-great grandchildren, and numerous cousins, nieces and nephews. A memorial service is planned for August.