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Obituary of Dr. Lee Hayes Ellison
Dr. Lee Hayes Ellison, former Chief of Pediatric Cardiothoracic & Vascular Surgery at Hartford Hospital and Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, passed away after complications due to Parkinson ’s Disease. As noted by a Peace Corps colleague in the publication: Five Champions of Child Health in the Peace Corps, Lee’s life was a remarkable odyssey, from Peace Corps physician who created Malawi’s first Peace Corps country-wide baby clinic project, to a renown Pediatric Cardiac Surgeon, to ocean navigator, to stone sculptor and artist. Lee was born in West Hartford, CT and approached life with positive energy, enthusiasm, and a genuine love of humankind. He attended Loomis Chaffe School, William and Mary College, and Boston University School of Medicine. His surgical training occurred in Boston, Hartford and at the Univ. of Michigan. Lee’s academic career included many prestigious awards as a student, resident and ultimately as a Clinical Professor at the University of Connecticut and Hartford Hospital. Lee became world renown for his innovative surgical techniques, dozens of academic research publications, and being the first to do many complex and life-saving pediatric cardiac surgeries in CT. He operated at Hospital Marie Lannelongue in Paris with colleagues and shared his knowledge eagerly. Lee’s kindness and gentle demeanor as a surgeon was described in a Boston Globe article and a book by Mitchell Zuckoff, who noted that Lee was “Gary Cooper in a John Wayne role” who often wept with families in times of joy or sorrow. Lee’s loving family was the “best part of my life”, and he is survived by his adoring wife Marybeth, his children, Lars Ellison of Camden, ME, Kristin Ellison of Ventura, CA, Alexander Ellison of Boston, MA, and Lara Ellison of Durham, CT; and two grandchildren, Cole Ellison of Northampton, MA and Raine Ellison of Camden, ME. Lee also has a large extended family of loving sisters-and-brothers-in- law, many nieces and nephews, dear friends, and “the world’s best mother in law”, Helen Pytlik. Lee was an avid skier and sailor and completed the Newport to Bermuda Race twice, and the Marion to Bermuda Race 3 times. The last time he completed the race in 2003, he had retired from surgery, and continued sailing for an additional 25,000-mile journey with his family, recounted in his son Alex’s book. He belonged to the Baldwin Yacht Club and the Essex Corinthian Yacht club. The latter part of Lee’s creative work was spent sculpting stone, often Stony Creek granite instead of tissue, and he became an accomplished sculptor. He was an Elected Member of the Lyme Art Association, and has work in collections throughout the area, including an 800 pound beloved granite Sea Lion located at Mystic Seaport. Lee’s legacy will live on in those he helped and in those who loved him, but he will be deeply missed. A Memorial Service will be held on Sunday, September 4, 2022 at 1:30 p.m. at The Wooster Memorial Chapel at Fountain Hill Cemetery, 57 High Street, Deep River, CT 06417. Interment will follow in the River Rest natural burial section of the cemetery. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made in Dr. Ellison’s name to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. Please visit www.michaeljfox.org or mail to P.O. Box 5014, Hagerstown, MD 21741-5014.