or forty-six years Ella enjoyed her life as a wife, mother, and volunteer. All that changed when her husband died in 2009 after a lengthy illness. Ella became the completely unqualified president of Prichard Oil Company. While learning the business and settling the estate in the midst of the Great Recession, she poured out her grief and anxiety on Twitter and Facebook. Readers responded, “Keep writing.” The idea for a book to help other widows in their journey from grief to joy began to germinate during a trip to Nantucket in August 2013. Reclaiming Joy: A Primer for Widows—inspired by the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Philippians—was published by 1845 Books, an imprint of the Baylor University Press, in September 2018.
Born in New Orleans in 1941, Ella grew up in Texarkana, Arkansas. Shy and studious, she fell in love with words on paper as a young child. Books were her best friends, and the nearby public library was her favorite destination. Without any formal training in journalism, she regularly produced little mimeographed newspapers for the groups she belonged to. She served as editor of her high school newspaper. With the encouragement of her English/journalism teacher and the local newspaper editor, she enrolled at Baylor University, Waco, Texas, in 1959 with plans to pursue a newspaper career. Those plans were abandoned when she met Lev while working as a summer intern reporter at thein 1962. They married five months later.
After her graduation from Baylor in 1963, Ella found myriad ways to share her talent through church and community service: writing Sunday School curriculum for the Southern Baptist Convention Sunday School Board (now LifeWay), writing and editing for local nonprofits, and producing promotional materials for nonprofit capital campaigns. Known as a gourmet cook, she served as coeditor of , a top-selling cookbook published by the Junior League of Corpus Christi. At the same time, she stayed actively involved in the lives of her two children, Lev IV and Peggy, and later with their spouses and her four grandchildren.
Please contact Ella to book speaking and teaching engagements with your group.