The first impression Linda Ellis makes is unforgettable—wearing stylish 4-inch heels, she still looks tiny enough to tuck into a pocket. She’s the belle of the ball, the queen in her court. Linda knows no strangers and no strangers know her, a very different scenario from when she first came to America nearly 50 years ago. Spry and outgoing and positively radiating with a 50,000-watt smile, Linda engages the entire room. She’s a force of nature.
As a 15-year resident of Sterling Place, a United Church Homes housing community in Lakeland, Florida, Linda sees her good works all around her. She’s Sterling Place’s resident artist, the proud painter of a 12-foot ocean-themed mural that adorns the lobby and greets everyone who visits. As someone who earned a degree in sewing arts when she was in her teens, Linda’s palette shows versatility and imagination. Her work can be found in both private and public collections, and she once sold a piece to the local Bank of America. Her artistic interests and sensibilities seem limitless.
She was blessed to live a life without borders. Born in Taiwan and raised in Japan where her family owned a hotel and restaurant, she migrated to the United States after meeting a handsome and charming (but also sad and lonely) American GI, Chester Ellis, as he was recovering from an injury sustained in the Korean War. As Chester pursued a military career, Linda followed him to various ports of call. Stateside it meant Louisiana, California and Virginia; while overseas it involved France and Bangkok, Thailand. Together they raised two of their own children, as well as three stepchildren. Linda exudes the air of an artist well-versed in multiple media. She’s an origami master and talented calligraphist who taught these skills to others in the community, including children and older adults. She enjoys being a dancer, practitioner and teacher, following the lead of her brother, a ballroom dance instructor. Dancing five nights a week makes Linda fit and firm, even at age 85. No wonder she’s so tiny!
A practicing Buddhist, Linda lives in a cocoon of happiness and peace, nurtured by contentment and bolstered by an understanding of cultural diversity. She is well-liked at Sterling Place, as is evidenced by the many people who seek her audience when they walk by. She’s a serial hug-giver with a smile that’s incredibly infectious. She attributes her longevity to great health, entertaining others and being surrounded by good friends.
“When I first came here I spoke very little English and struggled to make friends,” said Linda. “Now I have hundreds of friends, maybe 500, but who’s counting? I stay busy by staying active.”
Vibrant and blessed with personal fulfillment and a sustained sense of spirituality, Linda is connected to the threads of her community through friendship and love. No wonder she majored in sewing arts while in college. Her good works as a United Church Homes resident can be seen by all.