Blog: Ellie Somerfield

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Burt Ross

I am very fond of Ellie Somerfield. How could I not be? She is my biggest fan. Ellie not only reads my column every week, she actually cuts them out of the paper and gives them to friends. 

Ellie is also a beautiful human being. She thinks of others even when she herself is suffering. She recently lost Gil, her husband of almost 65 years, after a long decline. The two of them had to evacuate Malibu after the fire, even though Gil was in hospice. They were able to return, and at least Gil was able to pass on in their own home.

Despite her tremendous loss, Ellie has taken in victims of the fire. Her generosity doesn’t surprise anybody who knows Ellie. For virtually her entire life, she has helped others, be it through philanthropy, educating children about the Holocaust, serving as a docent for 30 years at the Skirball Cultural Center and so on.

My bride and I wanted to take Ellie out for a meal recently, but she insisted that we come to her home for some coffee and cake. She said it would give her pleasure. One of the many reasons I am happy to be Jewish is we like food—especially desserts, and particularly cake. I like food, desserts and I most certainly love cake. Whatever pleasure Ellie got from serving me cake, I am confident it did not equal the pleasure I took from eating her cake.

Ellie also gave me and my bride a tour of her magnificent Malibu home, designed by Ron Goldman. You could hear in Ellie’s voice the love she has for the place she and Gil shared for a quarter of a century. Ellie has been an artist for much of her life, and her beautiful works adorn her home.

At almost 89, Ellie is not slowing down. She is planning a safari in Africa with her grandchildren and a trip to Japan, and she continues to take salsa lessons. Ellie is a joy and an inspiration, and I am proud to call this special person my friend.