In Memory

Elinor Seidel


Submitted by: Rosemary Hoffmann & Kathy Seidel

Elinor Seidel passed away on November 28, 2017, at age 92 in Silver Spring, Maryland.  With her passing, UMUC has lost a truly remarkable woman, staunch supporter, and constant source of inspiration. Her involvement with the university began in Tokyo in June 1959, when she was hired as Assistant to the Far East Division Director, Mason G. (Bob) Daly. From her return to the U.S. in 1963 until her retirement in 1984 Ellie served under various titles and individuals as Assistant to the Dean/Chancellor/President of UMUC.  She was the key staff administrator who kept everything and everyone on track. Little happened at University College without Ellie’s direct involvement or knowledge.  How many “Ask Ellie” sticky notes are scattered around the UMUC Archive today that will now have to go unanswered!

If you, as an overseas faculty or staff member, didn’t know Ellie, she undoubtedly knew you. She would have interviewed you if you were hired through the stateside offices between 1963 and 1984. Whether you were a new hire, returnee or transferee between divisions, it was Ellie who shepherded your file through the entire process: assembling your complete file including transcripts and references, health report, loyalty oath [yes, that was a state requirement for many years!], security clearance, contract, and last, but not least, your travel orders.  In the mid-1970’s Ellie asked Univ. College faculty and staff to submit recipes from their travels around the world which she then compiled into “Chefs, Scholars & Movable Feasts”. Maybe one or more of your recipes appeared in the 1978 cookbook?

Ellie completed high school at age 16 and, unusual for the times, began studying at Columbia University.  Her marriage to Carl Seidel, an Army Lt. Colonel, took her first to Tokyo in 1959 and then, after Carl’s retirement from the military, to Washington, DC, in 1963. At that time, Ellie became the first woman on the stateside professional staff for University College.  

Both Ellie and Carl took advantage of UMUC’s continuing educational opportunities.  They graduated together with bachelor’s degrees on June 9, 1963.  Ellie went on to complete a Master’s degree in history and also began work on a Ph.D.  Ellie had a phenomenal memory as one might guess from her professional activities and from her love of both history and statistics. Her granddaughter Leslie commented that, “before there was Google, there was Grandma”.

In addition to her demanding professional career, Ellie was an avid golfer and active sports fan. She also played bridge and scrabble with a vengeance, read prodigiously on a broad range of subjects and travelled whenever the opportunity arose, first with her husband Carl and after his death in 1990, with her daughter, Kathy, and granddaughters, Leslie and Alexis. Kathy followed in her mother’s footsteps, receiving a Ph.D. in English at the University of Maryland and eventually becoming Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Central Florida, Orlando.  Daughter Leslie Miranda is a licensed therapist in Camarillo CA , specializing in PTSD and family therapy, and daughter Alexis Wang is a graduate student in art history at Columbia University.

The Spring 1975 Marylander, described Ellie as “UC’s woman of the future”, stating: “Elinor Seidel is not the typical woman of today. But she may well be a model for the future”. Today, it seems more appropriate to describe her as a “Renaissance Woman”, a term she richly deserves. We have all benefitted tremendously from her talents and dedication. We shall miss her deeply.

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12/28/17 07:56 AM #1    

Ronald Schlundt

The obituary certainly understates her role in the overseas divisions' hiring process.  I remember very well her efficient involvement in all the details of my interview, employment file,  and first assignment with Maryland  in  Asia ("Far East Division" as it was then called)  in late 1974 and early 1975.    She will be greatly missed   


Ron Schlundt

12/28/17 09:34 AM #2    

Hugo Keesing

Although Joe Dellen was my first [1970] UMUC contact it was Ellie who met me at the Adult Education Center entrance, offered me a cup of coffee and then took my to my interview with Dean Drazek.  When I was deemed acceptable to become part of the Overseas faculty it was Ellie who was the first to congratulate me.  Over the next 45 years she was the "go to" administrator so aptly described in the tribute, for both my wife Marilynn Draxl and me.  Then she became our colleague for the years we, too, had offices on the Center's 3rd floor.  Marilynn was in the Chancellor's Office, I worked for the Dean.  After we went our separate ways in the 1980s we stayed in touch, exchanged Christmas cards and sought each other out at various UMUC events and OMA reunions.  Our last time with her was a couple of years ago, when after a program at Riderwood she invited Marilynn and me to her condo for refreshments...and to show off her collection of Maryland Terrapins ephemera. For us Ellie will always be remembered as the smiling face of UMUC.                                          Hugo Keesing (UMUC 1970-91) and Marilynn Draxl (UMUC 1971-1991)





12/28/17 10:32 AM #3    

John Gustafson

After joining the faculty in 1978 I encountered Ellie over and over on UMUC occasions. She maintained her interest in all of us with beaming encouragement and canny advice. I am sorry to hear that she is gone. The place--lots of places--won't be the same without her.

12/29/17 10:23 AM #4    

Doug Lemmon

Two additonal articles about Ellie from Rosemary Hoffmann:

From The Washington Post, June 1963

From the UMUC Alumni Association publication, The Achiever, Spring 1994

01/02/18 05:11 PM #5    

Julian Jones

Ellie Seidel was my friend and confidant over nearly fifty years. Like so many new faculty in the overseas program, I met her in College Park.  A few years later, in 1975, we began to work together recruiting new faculty for the European, Atlantic and Far East Divisions.  After Ellie’s retirement in the 1980s and mine in the 1990s, we remained friends.  Both of us loved exchanging stories on overseas history and discussing current events, cooking, good restaurants and, of course, travel.

In recent years, I admired Ellie’s efforts to bring the Overseas Marylanders Association and the UMUC administration closer. She encouraged UMUC President, Javier Miyares, to archive the extensive papers of Mason G. Daly, one of the most notable of overseas staff, and she became an early and enthusiastic supporter of a documentary film on the overseas program’s history. All who worked on the film were sad that she did not live to see it completed in late 2017.

I will miss my oldest friend at UMUC.

08/31/20 12:55 AM #6    

Dennis Gwynn

Ellie's warmth made a lasting impression. Her contribution to the college park office was immense as she was greatly capable and had such compassion for others that we knew if we needed some sort of help she was at our side making sure things worked. I can not imagine Maryland without this wonderful lady.

09/03/20 08:54 PM #7    

Bruce Janoff

I echo the sentiments of all those who have written about Ellie Seidel with great affection and who mourn her passing.  I first met Ellie in the Fall of 1972 when I arrived in Tokyo for my initial assignment with UMUC.  As a green rookie just out of graduate school, I needed all the help I could get.  More than anyone else in the UMUC Fuchu offices, Ellie gave me that help.  She always greeted me with a smile, was always attentive, and always took the time to help no matter how busy she was.  During all my years with UMUC and later with OMA, I never once heard a harsh word said about Ellie Seidel.  I think it is safe to say that she was universally loved and admired.

In 2014 I began interviewing UMUC faculty and staff as part of an Oral History Project.  Ellie graciously sat for one of the early interviews (Durham NC, 12 June 2015).  The venue was Ellie's hotel room.  As  was the case with many other interviewees, Ellie was excited to discuss the large fund of UMUC knowledge that she had accumulated over the years, from her relationship with legendary Chancellor, Ray Ehrensberger, Bob Daily, Joe Mabbitt and a dozen other early pioneers of the Far East and European Divisions.  The interview lasted a full hour and I could tell that Ellie was enjoying it.  At one point she surprised me when she abruptly left the interview chair, walked to her dresser, opened her suitcase and proudly displayed some UMUC document (I forget what) as I tried to keep the camera in focus.  

A copy of this interview is now part of the UMUC archives in Largo Maryland.  Furthermore, it warms my heart to know that Ellie's daughter, Kathy, was able to get a copy of the DVD.  She has said that she will cherish it.

Bruce Janoff


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