Wilma Jane Ellenbogen, beloved mother to sons James, William, and Richard, and long-time resident of New Rochelle, New York, passed away in her sleep on February 11, 2022. She lived a long, full life and was 100 years old.
Wilma was predeceased in 1994 by her husband of 46 years, Herbert (“Hank”) Ellenbogen, a World War II veteran. Together, in the 1950s and 1960s, they started the manufacturing business Allied Converters, which has continued to operate in New Rochelle for 68 years. She is survived by her son James; son William and his wife Janet, and their son and daughter, Matthew, and Courtney; and her son Richard and his wife Maryann, and their daughters Rachel and Sarah.
Wilma was a well of energy, positivity, and encouragement for everyone in her family and others she knew. She measured her success in life by the success of those she helped around her, especially that of her husband and of her children. A loving mother, she instilled the values of honesty, hard work, discipline, and caring in word and by living those values.
Wilma greatly valued knowledge and education, and also passed those values on to her children. She loved to read, especially histories and historical novels. Throughout her life she enjoyed discussing historical events, those she had read about, as well as those she lived through in her century-long life.
However, Wilma, whose great warmth and intelligence also were remarked upon by all who met or knew her, had led a much more varied life than simply that of mother and partner. She was born in Washington, DC, on September 5, 1921, the older of two sisters. As a child, she was doted upon by her grandparents and great grandparents, the latter of whom had lived through the Civil War in Washington, as well as by her mother and her father, who was a patent attorney and had been a U.S. military aviator during World War I. Wilma was brought up on their life narratives and, as a result, her recollections, as well as the family stories she knew and related, bridged the periods from the middle of the 19th century to the modern high-tech era.
She graduated from Wilson High School in Washington at only 15 years old, having skipped two grades of school. She went on to Duke University at age 16 and graduated with degrees in Economics and Statistics when she was 20, in June 1941, just six months before the start of World War II. During the war, she worked six days a week as a statistician for the War Production Board and advanced rapidly within the Civil Service.
At the same time, she also attended law school in the evenings at George Washington University, being one of only three women in her law school class. In 1946 she graduated law school and was admitted to the bar in Washington, DC. She worked in private industry until she met and married her husband in late 1947.
Wilma and Hank moved to New York prior to the birth of James in December 1948. During the 1950s and 1960s they raised their three sons on Long Island, then in Rockland County, and finally in New Rochelle. Wilma and Hank worked together to manage and operate their business there until the end of Hank’s life and it is now led by their son Richard.
Wilma was not a traditionalist and once her children were all in school, in the mid-1960s, she renewed her career, working for 20 years for the State of New York Department of Labor as a statistician and labor analyst. She became one of the first occupants of the Department’s new offices in the just-opened World Trade Center, when they relocated there. She was the editor of weekly bulletin called the New York State Labor News, which she published from an office with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking New York Harbor and the Statue of Liberty, having views that took away the breaths of her visitors.
When she retired from the Department of Labor in 1986, she resumed full-time work at Allied Converters until 2015, when she was 93, supporting first her husband and then her son as they operated the business. For the past 8 years, until her death, she lived quietly in her photograph and book-filled apartment in New Rochelle, enjoying her four grandchildren, as well as reading, following events, and continuing to encourage her three sons. The family is thankful for the care provided by many nurse’s aides as Wilma’s health declined, as well as the extra attention that Richard and Maryann provided.
James, William, and Richard were extremely fortunate to have had such a warm, wonderful mother, who was so supportive of their endeavors for so long. They miss her presence greatly.