Nancy Bush Ellis, Sister and Aunt of Presidents and Former Chestnut Street Resident, Dies at 94

Nancy Bush Ellis, the sister of President George H.W. Bush and aunt of President George W. Bush, as well as a former Chestnut Street  resident for around 25 years, died on Jan. 10. She was 94.

Mrs. Ellis, who succumbed to complications from the coronavirus in an assisted living facility in Concord, broke the party line from her famous Republican lineage by devoting herself to Democratic causes.

But despite her personal political affiliation, Mrs. Ellis also campaigned tirelessly for her brother, George H.W., when he announced he was entering the Republican primary for president in 1979, as well as for her nephew,  George W., before he was elected to the White House in November of 2000, and both domestically and in Europe for his successful reelection bid in 2004.

Mrs. Ellis also volunteered extensively with United South End Settlements, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Kodaly Music Institute in Somerville, the Massachusetts Audubon Society, and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, among other nonprofits.

City Councilor Kenzie Bok said while she didn’t know Mrs. Ellis personally, they both attended Trinity Church, and during several services,  she spotted Ms. Ellis, who was a “beloved parishioner,” sitting among the pews there.

“She was noted for being very kind and having a wicked sense of humor,” Councilor Bok said of Mrs. Ellis. “The whole community at the church and on Beacon Hill is going to miss her a lot.”

Like Councilor Bok, State Rep. Jay Livingstone had never personally met Mrs. Ellis, but was well aware of what she achieved.

“I never had the pleasure of meeting her, but it’s a sad loss,” Rep. Livingstone said, “and I appreciate her great involvement in local institutions, like the Boston Symphony Orchestra and United South End Settlements,”

Born on Feb. 4, 1926, in Greenwich, Conn., as the middle of five children and the only daughter to Dorothy Walker Bush and Prescott Sheldon Bush, a banker who served as a U.S. Senator from Connecticut, the future Mrs. Ellis earned an undergraduate degree in English from Vassar College in 1946 and married Alexander Ellis Jr., a decorated World War II combat veteran , that same year.

Mr. Ellis worked as an insurance executive, and the couple settled and raised a family in Concord before relocating to Lincoln. Mrs. Ellis moved to Beacon Hill 1n 1989 from Lincoln after her husband, succumbed that year to pancreatic cancer. She later lived in Lincoln and also enjoyed spending time on the family’s compound in Kennebunkport, Maine. 

Mrs. Ellis is survived by her sons Alexander Ellis, John Prescott Ellis and Josiah Wear Ellis, who is president and chief executive of the Denver Broncos; a daughter, Nancy Walker Ellis Black; nine grandchildren; 11 great-grandchildren; and a brother, Jonathan James Bush. A service to remember Mrs. Ellis in Lincoln will be announced after restrictions on public gatherings have been eased, according to The Boston Globe

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