Remembering Ellen R. Joseph
Ellen R. Joseph died on January 13, 2021 at the age of 84 at her home in Manhattan.
She is survived by her husband of 65 years, Lawrence M. Joseph, her children Miranda Joseph and partner Erin Durban, Harlan David Joseph, Galen Joseph and partner Robert Allen, brother and sister-in-law James and Nancy Katzoff, and sister-in-law Susan Gloria Joseph, and her smile-inspiring granddaughter, Fenniver Durban-Albrecht-Joseph.
Ellen grew up in Brooklyn and Queens NY. She met her soon to be life companion, Larry, when he was a swim counselor and she a counselor-in training at the summer camp her father owned (Camp Chi Wan Da). They married when she was 18 and he 22. Shortly after they married, he was called to meet his ROTC obligation to the Air Force. He was assigned to Japan, where they spent 2 formative years that shaped their interests and aesthetics for the rest of their lives.
Ellen received her BA from Barnard College in 1960 where she was first in her class. There she formed life-long friendships with Galen Williams, Dorothy Gonson, and Priscilla “Polly” Carter. She followed Larry to his first job as a lawyer in Washington DC, arriving there in a snowstorm the night before John F Kennedy’s inauguration. In Washington, she worked as an editor at the American Scholar magazine published by Phi Beta Kappa. Ellen and Larry returned to NY seven years later, with 3 small children in tow, where Ellen worked for several years as a book editor with the Brookings Institution. Her editorial skills were crucial to many of her close family and friends, who learned to write clearly and effectively under her tutelage.
While her children were all still under 10, she began attending Columbia Law School, (graduating in 1976) where she not only launched a distinguished career but developed several crucial friendships with a small group of other exceptional women in her class. After a relatively brief stint at the law firm Cadwalader, Wickersham and Taft, she joined Kaye, Scholer (now Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer). She became one of Kaye Scholer’s first women partners, specializing in commercial real estate, and playing a central role in facilitating the deals that resulted in the building of the World Financial Center in the Battery Park area of Manhattan. She was described by her colleagues as “a brilliant lawyer, always genial and even tempered – even in the midst of the most challenging deal negotiations. Ellen was a mentor to many of our current real estate partners in New York back when they were associates, and her positive influence continues to be felt at the firm to this day.”
She joined the board of the organization Poets & Writers, founded by her college friend Galen Williams; she eventually served as President of that board, among other officer roles, and remained a member for 41 years.
When she and Larry retired, they began second careers as world travelers. Ellen was equally passionate about exploring the diverse flora and fauna around the globe and the many different human cultures and creations.
Ellen brought great intelligence to every aspect of her life; and even more importantly she offered wisdom, a sharp wit, emotional insight, generosity, and compassion to us all. She will be sorely missed by Larry, her children and family, and by the friends she made and kept throughout her life.
Donations can be made in her honor to Poets & Writers, Barnard College Class of 1960, the Parkinson’s Foundation, or Doctors without Borders.