Bloxham and Sibford educator dies

Dorothy June Ellis, lifelong educator and Member of The Society of Friends, has died peacefully in Green Pastures Christian Nursing Home in Banbury at the age of 93, after a long illness.

Dorothy June Ellis
Dorothy June Ellis

June, as she was known, was born in Newcastle in 1926. She was a Geordie at heart and her appetite for the north was fed by many trips to York, Northumbria, and beyond, often towing a caravan, and accompanied by her lifelong friend Sylvia Warren and various dogs.

Poignantly, Sylvia died exactly a week after June, aged 94, in Godswell Park Care Home, Bloxham.

Although never married, and without children, as a teacher June was surrounded by young people most of her life.

She took a close interest in them, keeping in touch after her retirement by letter and card and maintaining a huge address book of contacts stretching back to her early years; seemingly single-handedly keeping the Royal Mail in business.

Although an early adopter of technology (she had a dictaphone, a sat nav and a lap top and could text in a language known only to a few initiates) she never embraced email.

June graduated from Durham University in 1946 with a degree in Pure Science (Bacteriology), and gained a diploma in Education, PE and Public Health and Hygiene the following year.

June began her teaching career in 1947. While nursing her mother from 1949 until her death in 1952, June kept down various teaching jobs close to home, but after her death June taught away from home for the first time and from 1953 to 1963 taught at St Monica’s Convent School Clacton.

In January 1964 June became deputy head of Sibford School and was accepted into The Society of Friends, becoming the first woman chair of the Friends’ Heads’ Conference. She later became Head of Old Scholars at Sibford.

At 51, June became head of The Mount School in York from 1976 to 1985, and was made an Elder at York Meeting. She was involved at a national level in Quaker activity, with many speaking engagements and working with the Heads’ Group to build bridges between state and public schools.

In 1972 June bought her beloved cottage in Swerford, as a bolt-hole from school, where she enjoyed entertaining and offering hospitality and sanctuary to various friends, something she continued to do until ill health prevented her in 2017.

She was admitted to hospital in May 2019, and then to Green Pastures but had achieved her desire to remain independent and live in her own cottage as long as possible, supported by carers and friends.

Before and during retirement June remained busy, with involvement in the Woodard Schools Bloxham Project to promote Christian educational values in the UK, as elder of Charlbury meeting, and as parish clerk to Swerford Parish Council.

She held Trusteeships in various schools and was a Governor of Bloxham Primary School. In addition to her Quaker status, she was a supporter of various Anglican churches, including St Mary’s, Bloxham, St Lawrence, Milcombe and later attended St Michael and All Angels, Great Tew and St Bartholomew, Fingest in the Hambleden Valley Churches.

Generous, inclusive and thoughtful, June was a friend to many, with a heart for hospitality, and a passion for education which particularly in later years included a mission to teach everyone to communicate effectively with people who are hard of hearing.

The only surviving child of Robert and Dora Ellis,, June is survived by her third cousin Susan McCartney and Sue’s daughters Amy and Emma.

The funeral service will be held at St Mary’s Church, Bloxham at 1.30pm on Wednesday, November 20, following a service of committal at Banbury Crematorium at 12pm.

All are welcome to both services. June requested that bright colours should be worn and family flowers only please, but donations in lieu if desired to World Vision UK.