On December 1, 2022, Eleanor Eileen Vees, aka “Miss Ellie” to all who knew and loved her, shared her famous blue eyes and her million-dollar smile for the last time, and the world will be just a little bit less bright from now on.
Eleanor Eileen was born in Jacksonville, Florida, on March 16, 1929, to Elmer Ellsworth James and Mattie Carol Causey, and was one of five siblings.
In her life, she was first and foremost a mother, and she did it well. But after she finally found the knight on a white horse she had waited so long for, she married Calvin Vees on September 12, 1980, in Winter Park, Florida. They spent 39 years together, during which they inspired their own family members as well as strangers with their love and tenderness for each other, even if they couldn’t always agree on where they had eaten for dinner that night.
Miss Ellie found professional success as an insurance adjustor for American Mutual Liability Insurance Company in Jacksonville as well as Crawford & Company in Orlando. She also served as president of the Jacksonville chapter of Zonta International, an organization with the mission of empowering women. She was a devoted and beloved member of her Sunday School class at Deermeadows Baptist Church in Jacksonville for many years, for which she served as social director.
Those of us who had the privilege of belonging to Miss Ellie knew a few truths: She would always, always worry about us. She baked the best biscuits in the world. Her banana pudding was the one thing the whole family would fight over. She loved pecan pralines and soft peppermints. Her “little dog Bonnie” was her pride and joy, along with her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She liked bright colors and big diamonds and reading People magazine, and she was always cold. She told it like it was and didn’t hold back her opinions. She was the definition of a steel magnolia. She loved bravely and she loved hard, and if she loved you, you were loved (and fed) well.
Miss Ellie was preceded in death by husband Calvin as well as her sisters Rachel James (Schaffner) and Mary James Braddock. She is survived by her brother, Elmer James (Barbara), and her sister, Laura Edna McNallay (Larry); her daughters, Johnnie Breed and Nancy Slater (Jim); and four grandchildren, Michael Cordell, Terry Cordell (Lori), Allison Slater Tate (Trey), and Scott Slater (Stacy). She leaves ten great-grandchildren, who were so lucky to have so much time with their Miss Ellie: Casey Cordell, Izzac Cordell; Morgan, Gabe, Addison, and Ellie Slater; and Mason, Charlie, Ben, and Lucy Tate, as well as many nieces, nephews, and cousins.
Every family holiday dinner began with a blessing and a thank you for Miss Ellie, and it always will. Her memory will live on for the family she created, and we will miss her forever.
A visitation hour for family and friends will be held from 11am to 12pm on December 16 at Ponte Vedra Valley, 4750 Palm Valley Road, Ponte Vedra Beach, FL. A funeral service will be held at 12pm with a reception immediately following. Pallbearers will include Trey, Charlie, and Ben Tate, Scott and Gabe Slater, Terry and Michael Cordell. Honorary pallbearers: Jim Slater and Elmer James.