Chelmsford High School Alumni Association
Awarding Criteria: Will be awarded to a high-ranking senior who plans to major in the health sciences
In November of 1999, Ellen Paignon MacElroy turned 100. There has been a lot of living in that century.
Chelmsford was still a small, rural town when she was born in the South section. Her father, a farmer, also owned a grain mill where the Agway store is now located. The family home was on Proctor Road. Her family lived in a big house, but that didn’t mean that she had a life of leisure. She learned to drive the family Model T at an early age and started to help out wherever her family needed her. Driving was not something that was ordinary for young women in the early part of the 20th century.
She and her husband Grant each had a business in Chelmsford Center. She ran a store (where Jack’s Diner is now) that we would probably consider a “convenience store.” She sold small items as well as coffee, soft drinks, and ice cream. He owned and operated the precursor of the Mobil gas station. They had no children of their own, but they have been appreciated by nieces and nephews who have considered them as family treasures.
Later in life Mrs. MacElroy went to work at the Bedford Veterans’ Administration Hospital from which she retired. After living on Billerica Road for many years, she and her husband moved to the New Hampshire Lakes region, where she still has her home. She had her husband with her until he passed away at the age of 95.
When asked for a description of this special woman, one of her nephews relates that she’s one of those people - we hear the term “role model” often - who leads the way and shows others the great possibilities of living an interesting, meaningful life. And if you sat down in a room with her and she started to talk, you would be sure to find that what she was saying was interesting.
Her nephew emphasized the fact that Mrs. MacElroy is considered compassionate and affirming of others. Other words he used were “understanding, forgiving, and hospitable.” She has a positive attitude and always looks for the best in people. Even though we may hear the term “role model” often enough to dilute its meaning, it means a great deal when applied to Ellen Paignon MacElroy.