Ellen Tallman (1927-2008)

ELLEN MURRAY TALLMAN 1927-2008 On July 19, our beloved Ellen died of post-surgery complications at Vancouver General Hospital. She fought valiantly for another round of life, but sadly, her heart was not up to the daunting task of recovery. Otherwise irrepressible, Ellen was an inspiration to those whose lives she touched. She possessed an unparalleled gift of connection that made one feel enriched and expanded for being in her presence. She gave much and generously to the life of Vancouver as well as her family and friends. Born in Berkeley, California to Kenneth and Alice King in 1927, Ellen attended Mills College where she majored in music (flute and piano) and English. In 1949, she completed her undergraduate degree at the University of California, Berkeley. There she befriended many San Francisco and Black Mountain poets, including Robin Blaser, Robert Creeley, Robert Duncan, and Jack Spicer. Beginning in the 1960s, Ellen and her former husband, Warren Tallman, invited these and other writers to read their work in Vancouver as part of their effort to enrich and stimulate the life of poetry and writing here. The readings and gatherings they organized were legendary, and a new generation of Canadian poets and writers, including the Tish group, emerged and flourished. During this time, Ellen and Warren, who had met doing graduate work at University of Washington in Seattle, taught in the English Department at the University of British Columbia. Ever a pioneer and provocative change agent, Ellen also taught in UBC's newly evolving Arts One program in the Faculty of Arts, and later in UBC's Women's Studies Program. She was also a founding member of the New School, Vancouver's first progressive Deweyan, parents-coop alternative elementary school. In the 70s, Ellen pursued her interest in psychology and became a catalyzing force in Vancouver's Human Potential movement. She led therapy groups and workshops at the Cold Mountain Institute and taught in the Masters in Psychology program at Antioch College/Cold Mountain Institute until the late 70s. In addition to helping mentor a new generation of therapists, Ellen, in being open about her sexuality was a beacon of safety and hope in the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered community. Over the next thirty years, Ellen continued her work as a psychotherapist in private practice, and served as an adjunct faculty member, supervising graduate students in the Clinical Psychology program at Simon Fraser University. Throughout her life, Ellen remained a great appreciator and supporter of music, literature and art. Ellen built and bridged worlds around her, and in so doing, made life richer and more possible. She will be remembered for her wisdom and worldliness, her generosity and inclusiveness, and her undying curiosity and sense of adventure. In a word, Ellen is irreplaceable. She will be greatly missed by students, clients, family and friends alike. Ellen is predeceased by her parents Kenneth and Alice King, her former husband Warren Tallman (with whom Ellen remained friends until his death), and her beloved grandson, Jess DeBeck. She is survived by her daughter, Karen Tallman (Brian DeBeck), her son, Ken Tallman of Toronto, her granddaughters, Kora DeBeck of Vancouver, Alice Tallman of Erin, Ontario, and Vanessa Clark of Toronto; her sister, Isabella Davidson (Fred) of Fort Bragg, California; her devoted partner, Sarah Kennedy, housemates Robin Blaser and David Farwell, cats Jazz and Mr. Blue, and a legion of exceptional friends. A tribute will be held in Ellen's honor on Saturday, October 11, 2008, 2:30 p.m. at the Vancouver Masonic Center, 4th Floor, 1495 West 8th Avenue. Charitable donations can be made to the Ellen and Warren Tallman Endowment Fund for the Writer-in-Residence program at Simon Fraser University. Attn: Preet Virk, Manager, Donor Relations, SFU, University Advancement, 2118 Strand Hall, 8888 University Drive, Burnaby BC, V5A 1S6; The Ellen Tallman Street Angels Scholarship to help economically disadvantaged students in the NE of Brazil realize their educational dreams. Attn: The Street Angels Society, 4th Floor, 343 Railway St., Vancouver, BC V6A 1A4. Tax-deductible receipts will be issued. [The Toronto Globe and Mail (30 August 2008)]