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Alice Ely Chapman and Leroy Chapman

Alice Ely Chapman and Leroy Chapman

A public memorial service for Alice Ely Chapman, founder and director of the Ely Chapman Education Center of Marietta, and her husband Leroy Chapman, will be held at the Peoples Bank Theater, 1 p.m., Saturday, July 31, 2021.

Alice passed away on Dec. 30, 2020, at Marietta Memorial Hospital from COVID-19, six weeks after losing Leroy to heart disease. She was born on June 9, 1944, in New Haven, CT, to John Ingraham Ely and Harriet Jackson Ely. Alice grew up in New Haven and spent her summers at the family home on Long Island, NY. As a child, she was privileged to travel with her family to England and France, once sailing on the Queen Mary.

Alice attended an all-girls boarding school at Rosemary Hall, Wallingford, CT, before it was merged with Choate School for Boys in 1971. Following graduation, she attended Bryn Mawr College, near Philadelphia, PA, and graduated in 1966 as a music major with a specialty as a flutist. She later earned a Master’s in Communication Studies from the University of Oklahoma.

In 1962 she attended the Fontainebleau Schools of Music and Fine Arts, near Paris, where she studied under renowned music educator Juliette Nadia Boulanger, whose students also include Aaron Copland, Quincy Jones, Burt Bacharach and hundreds of successful composers, conductors and musicians. She remained a devotee of classical music throughout her life.

It was in Fontainebleau that she met a young American soldier, Leroy Chapman, who was serving in the US Army Signal Corps. She attempted to impress him as a British girl with a passable English accent; Lee answered with a signature “Faith and b’glory, it’s a bloody limey” in his fake Irish accent, after which shins were kicked and true love was established. They married in Philadelphia on April 16, 1966.

While in Philadelphia, they raised their two sons, John and Ted, both active in the Boy Scouts. Alice settled in as a Den Mother and sponsored trips for local scouts to Cherokee, North Carolina and Disney World.

As her sons enrolled in the William Penn Charter School, Alice became a volunteer at the PTA store, where she managed school spirit merchandise while taking control of book and academic purchasing. As she was in line to become school Business Manager, she and Lee moved their family to Ohio in 1997.

Alice was an educator and traveler. She and Lee took their sons to all 50 states to underscore the breadth and diversity of the United States. Their travels also took them to Japan, Costa Rica, Canada, Alaska, France, Russia, Hong Kong, mainland China and the Great Wall.

Alice made a significant and sustainable contribution to the children of the Marietta area when she established the Ely Chapman Education Foundation in 1999. Upon moving to Marietta, she recognized a need for supplemental assistance, tutoring and mentorship of primary school students outside of normal school hours and during summer vacations. Working with various local and state agencies, school districts and philanthropic institutions, Alice crafted the structure for a working relationship with schools and local teachers, administrators and childcare providers that continues to this day. Originally working with the Marietta College McDonough Leadership Program, Alice organized annual free book giveaways that became a staple of the Ely Chapman experience.

Her commitment to education, especially to those with special needs, was underscored by her passion for giving children an encouraging environment for learning through after-class tutoring, book giveaways, arts programs and social experiences, including outings and field trips. She was an expert at giving hugs to children on tough days and high fives on good days.

Alice and Lee were local fixtures as Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus at Ely Chapman and other functions throughout Marietta.

Although she did not seek recognition, she was known locally and throughout America as a selfless and generous advocate for the kind of child enrichment she enjoyed as a young girl. A true Renaissance woman and an example to children and adults alike, she was presented with the prestigious Richard Cornuelle Award for Social Entrepreneurship by the Manhattan Institute in 2014. She was named the Gabe Zide Citizen of the Year by the Marietta Area Chamber of Commerce in 2010.

Alice was a member of the Marietta Rotary Club, where she remained active in literacy and scholarship programs, eventually establishing the annual Ted Chapman Scholarships in honor of her late son.

Alice was preceded in death by her beloved husband Leroy R. Chapman, on Nov. 19, 2020, son George Edward (Ted) Chapman, on Sept. 15, 2014, and brother Richard Ely. She is survived by her son John Martin Chapman (Julia Kay) of Seattle, WA, granddaughters Kyra and Autumn Kay Chapman, sisters Harriet Griesinger, Nancy Kales, Marry Brennan, Jane Pearce, and her brother Robert Moulton-Ely.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Ely Chapman Education Foundation fund at the Marietta Community Foundation, 100 Putnam Street, PO Box 77, Marietta, OH 45750, or to the Marietta Rotary Club Scholarship Fund, PO Box 1138, Marietta, OH 45740.