A memorial service will be held tomorrow for Marianne Ellis, a prominent educator in the East Bay for 33 years, who died in her sleep on August 21  at her Oakland home. She was 74.
Described as a teacher, mentor, administrator and friend, Mrs. Ellis graduated from the University of California at Berkeley, where she did her undergraduate work, and from Holy Names College, where she received a master's degree in English.
Mrs. Ellis served as an administrator for 21 years in the Oakland Unified School District. She also taught English and was the vice principal at Lowell Junior High and Claremont Junior High for 12 years.
After that, she became the project director for the Reading and Writing Lab at Oakland High School. The lab blossomed under Mrs. Ellis' direction and served 300 students a year.
During her tenure, Mrs. Ellis pioneered a successful educational method that involved peer tutoring.
In 1985, Mrs. Ellis joined the East Bay Conservation Corps. Along with Barbara Sergeant and director Joanna Lennon, Mrs. Ellis created the East Bay Conservation Corps Learning Center, which helps 18- to 24-year-olds complete their high school educations.
At the corps, she helped start numerous programs, including Project YES (Youth Engaged in Service), a kindergarten-through-12th-grade learning partnership with the Oakland Unified School District, and the Summer of Service Program, where Mrs. Ellis used her peer tutoring methods to teach second-graders how to read and write.
Mrs. Ellis left the East Bay Conservation Corps last year and continued on in an advisory capacity until her death.
Her son, tenor saxophonist Glenn Spearman, died in October from colon cancer. Mrs. Ellis is survived by her two sisters,Gertrude Davis of Downey and Ursula Sabel of Pleasant Hill; and by four grandchildren.
The memorial service will be held 1:30 p.m. at the Montclair Women's Cultural Arts Club, 1650 Mountain Blvd. in Oakland.
Contributions may be made to the Marianne Ellis Scholarship Fund, c/o Joanna Lennon, East Bay Conservation Corps, 1021 Third St., Oakland, CA 94607.