Ellen Landowne: Who Is That Masked Woman?

Now that everyone– and by “everyone” I mean normal, non-selfish boneheads — understands the importance of wearing masks, Westport Masks is busier than ever.

For many weeks the ad hoc group has made masks, then donated them to front line personnel and those in need. Recipients include Westport’s Public Works, Parks & Recreation and highway departments; Westport Post Office; elderly residents through Westport’s Department of Human Services; Open Door Shelter in Norwalk; Food Rescue US; Thomas Merton Family Center in Bridgeport; Stamford Hospice, Norwalk Hospital and more.

Dozens of folks cut, sew and deliver. But all involved agree, one volunteer truly stands out.

Ellen Landowne heard about Westport Masks in March through “06880,” and was one of the first to step forward.

Since then she has been a core team member. She’s made masks for many — including seniors — and raised funds for food pantries (through sales to the public, at $12 each).

Pretty good for anyone. Particularly for someone who — like Ellen — is 85 years young.

Ellen Landowne, at her 1942 Singer machine. It once belonged to her mother. She still uses it for all her sewing needs.

Ellen came to Westport in 1967 with her husband Bob Landowne. They were married for 59 years, until his death in 2017. Their 3 children — Deborah, Steve and Judy — all graduated from Staples High School.

After graduating from Mount Holyoke College and then New York-Presbyterian Columbia University Medical Center, Ellen became a registered nurse. She stopped working when her children were in school.

In what she calls her “second, ‘unpaid’ career,” Ellen got involved with the Girl Scouts. Funding came from 8 United Ways. She volunteered with the Westport-Weston group as a “foot soldier,” then joined the board. Eventually, she was named United Way of Westport and Weston’s first female president.

Ellen also served on the board of the Mid-Fairfield Child Guidance Center.

And at age 55, she received her private pilot certificate. She flew with Bob as far as Florida and Ontario.

Ellen Landowne, pilot.

The masks Ellen and her fellow volunteers make have 2 layers of 100% cotton.  They’re washable, with a filter pocket for added protection. They have neck ties too, so they can be worn all the time.

Masks can be ordered at $12 each through westportmasks@yahoo.com. All proceeds go to local food pantries, and to purchase supplies for more masks.

Volunteers are always needed. Organizers say: “If you have a working sewing machine, can sew in a straight line and can follow a pattern, we could use your help. Fabric cutting is also greatly appreciated.” Email westportmasks@yahoo.com.

Their next project: In preparation for return to school, the group is making children’s masks for families who cannot afford disposable ones.

(Hat tip: Virginia Jaffe)

15 responses to “Ellen Landowne: Who Is That Masked Woman?

  1. Laurie Woog

    I know Debbie!

  2. Wow what a life and career. Never met Mrs. Landowne, but she represents everything great about the Westporters of my parents’ generation.

  3. Liz Blasko

    I LOVE Ellen Landowne! She is an amazing person! In addition to all the qualities and experiences you listed, Ellen is a fabulous dancer!!!!
    You Go, Ellen!

  4. Ellen Landowne

    Are you related to Emily Blau…one of my Girl Scouts?

  5. Hallie Stevens

    This is a wonderful tribute to Ellen and a life well lived.
    Of course She would jump into this project.
    I’ve known Ellen since I was In junior high when she was my troop leader
    She and my mother were very involved in scouting
    Since then she has been a great family friend
    Well done Ellen !!!

  6. Ann Aceves

    In addition to all of Ellie Landowne’s other talents and public service work, she is also THE volunteer scribe for the Class of 1956 of Mount Holyoke College. She keeps us all informed about any news by email. AND – she is a particularly delightful person!

  7. Brandy Carson

    UP UP AND AWAY, you great girl! i took a flying lesson once and was so very comfortable “up there”…you fill your years well!! must be that college you went to….

  8. "Noodlehead" Weiller

    Hail to a very special friend and college mate.How lucky am I to have had and still have her i my life .LOVE NOODLEHEAD WEILLER-of MHC fame

  9. Hooray for Ellie and cheers for all she has done in her amazing life. I am proud to be her Mount Holyoke College classmate and a treasured friend.

  10. Gilda Zalaznick

    If you want something done, ask a busy woman ….. that’s Ellen.
    The sewing machine is a treasured relic and look how it became an essential part of the newest volunteer activity for Ellen.
    Keep up the good work, Ellen …keep dancing, stay safe and keep sewing!!!

  11. Jo Prescott Mahendran

    Wow, Ellie. Well done. You are amazing! Must be that MHC 56 Get up and Go! Congrats!

  12. Roberta Kaufman

    Glad you have received recognition for all that you do- The class of 56 is proud of you–Bobsy

  13. Marianna Murphy Thomas

    So great to see you recognized for the many things you do! Mary Lyons would be proud of you! Murph

  14. Diane Johnson

    Congratulations, i have known Ellen since before kindergarten. My amazing dearest friend. Near or far we remain close.she is a very special lady .

  15. James Davis Connor

    I so look forward to Ellie’s correspondence…! Highlight of that day, for sure…! Thanks again. Jim Connor (Libby’s husband)