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Ellen Colcord Masland-Salyer
Birth: Mar. 31, 1948
Cumberland County
Pennsylvania, USA
Death: Jan. 31, 2000

Published on February 6, 2000

2000- The Press Democrat

BYLINE: Miriam Silver
Staff Writer PAGE: B1

Ellen Masland Salyer, who died in last week's Alaska Airlines jetliner crash, was remembered Saturday as an energetic and fiercely loving friend, wife, mother and grandmother, who transcended her early adult life of struggle and depression to find deep love and spiritual peace helping others who had less.

Nearly 500 people -- including prominent community and business leaders -- packed Santa Rosa's First Presbyterian Church at a memorial service Saturday for Salyer, 51, one of 88 people aboard the plane that crashed Monday afternoon into the ocean off Ventura County.

``Over the years, the job she made money at wore her out,'' her husband Phil Salyer said. ``Every time she gave to the community, it nurtured her. Six years ago she gave up her job and devoted herself to giving. That is what fed her.''

His wife told him that growing up she learned from her father that you had two jobs in life -- the one you made money at, and the one in which you gave back to the community.

Salyer's best friend, Cathy Ptucha, said Salyer did not so much transform herself, as reveal herself over the years.

``I think more of her peeling back the layers. She could let go of things and go on to the next, to her core essence,'' Ptucha said.

Born and raised in a prominent Pennsylvania family, Salyer came to California in the '70s, describing herself as a one-time hippie. She married young, but divorced and raised her two children by managing an apartment complex.

She returned to school and became one of Sonoma County's top female accountants. She became a partner in the accounting firm of Zainer Rinehart Clark, and was president of the Santa Rosa Chamber of Commerce.

She decided to quit accounting in 1993 to work with her husband, spend more time with her grandchildren and get involved in community organizations, among them Face to Face/Sonoma County's AIDS network and the Boy Scouts.

With a small inheritance, Salyer bought an apartment in Cherkassy, a place where impoverished Ukranian women went for help and shelter.

Salyer was headed home Monday to Sebastopol from her vacation home in Puerta Vallarta. On Saturday, she and her husband would have celebrated the 13th anniversary of their relationship.

Phil Salyer said he and his wife, who went by the childhood nickname of Collie, decided after honeymooning for two months in Europe to figure out how they could travel.

``We did not want to wait until retirement. We wanted to grab the brass ring now. In looking back, I am so glad we did,'' he said.

She loved the sun, and that is why last year they decided to buy a condominium in Puerta Vallarta. ``It revitalized her.''

Her son, Nick Anderson, a Los Angeles Times reporter from Maryland, joked that his mother would have been pleased to be so much in the spotlight, and to see her death played more prominently in the newspaper last week than the presidential campaign.

Anderson talked about a special relationship with his mother, who was 18 when he was born. ``Consider this: I attended all three of her weddings,'' he said.

The first was when ``I was in the womb.'' At the second, when he was four, ``Mom wore a red velvet dress.'' At the third, to Phil Salyer, her son wore a tux and escorted his mother, dressed in a flowing white gown, down the aisle to her husband-to-be.

He read from letters she wrote to him. ``Be careful in life of being too judgmental of other people. There are very few people not worth getting to know and the more you do, you will see the good in them.''

She urged her son to follow his heart. ``Use your heart to get where your head wants you to go.''

His mother changed over the years, from young hippie Mom, single Mom, to soccer mom, to student Mom, and Harley motorcycle Mom in leather pants, he said.

But Salyer's favorite role was as devoted grandmother to two sons from her daughter Ingrid Clark and husband David of Santa Rosa, and an infant daughter to Anderson and wife Esther Schrader.

Salyer's brother, Jon Masland of Lafayette, said each year family became more important. She was creating a place for family and friends to gather, much like the country childhood she had in Carlisle, Pa., with cousins and grandparents all nearby.

Ptucha spoke of the struggle to understand that her friend had died in a plane crash.

``It's disconcerting. She was a star, a nova, that shattered into the ocean ... How do you make sense of a plane that comes plummeting down into the ocean? It's so big. It's a world event.''

But Ptucha, who said prayer and a spiritual life were important to Salyer, looked to her own friend's character for comfort.

``It was God's last assignment for her to be the woman of faith and courage and to be on that plane and go down with those people. That was her last assignment,'' Ptucha said.

As the song ``You Are So Beautiful,'' was played, the memorial service ended with a slide show -- black and white photos of Salyer with her brothers as a child in the '50s, and color photos of her as a young mom, a college graduate, at her wedding to Phil Salyer, her children's weddings, with her stepdaughters and grandchildren, and lying in the sun at the ocean.

``I tried to imagine what she would say to us. She'd would tell us to spend time with the life of a child ... She would tell us to take care of ourselves, and not try to do it alone,'' said Ptucha.

From Sonoma State University's Website:
Ellen Masland-Salyer was partner in CPA firm Zainer Rinehart Clarke. Masland held many leadership roles on boards such as Social Advocates for Youth, United Way, and the Luther Burbank Center. She was a member of the first class of Leadership Santa Rosa and served on the board for nine years. Aside from her family and career, Masland said that making a positive difference in the community was extremely important to her. She received the Sonoma State University Distinguished Alumni Award in 1994.

Created by: Geraldine "Gerry" Hume...
Record added: May 02, 2008
Find A Grave Memorial# 26542672
Ellen Colcord Masland-Salyer
Added by: Geraldine "Gerry" Humes
Ellen Colcord Masland-Salyer
Added by: Geraldine "Gerry" Humes
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Ellen, we miss you. PDQ III still meets, the same group, but quite a few of us are still there. Thinking of you today.
- Geraldine "Gerry" Humes
 Added: Aug. 27, 2014
Ellen, we miss you. PDQ III still meets, the same group, but quite a few of us are still there. Thinking of you today.
- Geraldine "Gerry" Humes
 Added: Aug. 27, 2014

- Lance
 Added: Dec. 27, 2012
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This page is sponsored by: Geraldine "Gerry" Humes

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