Ellen L. Harbaugh, 77

Ellen L. Harbaugh passed away peacefully, as the sun was setting on May 9, 2021 at the age of 77.

Ellen was born in Belleville, IL on December 17, 1943 to Henry and Veranda Stork. She graduated with honors and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in education from Southern Illinois University, and attended graduate school at Kansas State University. She worked at Little Grassy Lake, near Carbondale, IL in the early 60’s, and helped to establish a day camp held at Camp Wartburg sponsored by the Monroe County Council for the Handicapped.

She married Daniel Harbaugh on June 25th, 1966. She taught elementary school for a year in Waterloo, IL and 4 years in Manhattan, KS before making their home in Marshalltown, Iowa in 1971, where she taught kindergarten and reading for the Marshalltown Area Catholic Schools. After teaching there for 23 years, she retired for health reasons. However, she found other ways to impact students. She continued to tutor following her retirement, and was most affectionately known as “The Book Lady.”

Ellen had a passion for reading and getting books into the hands of children. With the help of close friends, Ellen began an outreach program in 2003 called, “Books and Beasties,” where they paired a stuffed animal with a character from a book. Throughout the many years of leading this program, more than 89,000 “Books and Beasties” were donated to various organizations, including Child Abuse Prevention Services, Youth and Shelter Services, and Head Start. They were also distributed to school systems all over the country from Connecticut to Chicago to Arkansas. She applied for grants to help support the operations and housed the workings, storage and distribution of this operation, along with her husband and friends. She also served on the board of the Iowa Valley Community College Family Literacy Program, and received the “Celebrate Literacy” award from the Iowa Reading Association in Des Moines for her efforts.

She led a faithful life as a longtime member at St. Henry’s church. She was involved with church dinners, and the St. Henry’s Alter and Rosary Society.

We are reminded of her enduring love and faith, as a loving wife, mother, grandmother, sister, aunt, and friend.

She leaves behind her loving husband, Dan, of 54 years; and son, Jim (Susan), and grandsons, Grant and Sam; as well her son, Tom, and grandchildren, Ella, Luke, and Leo. She also leaves behind her sister, Mary (Dick) Fitzgerald; brother, Roy Stork; and In-laws Marie (John) DeLuca, Paul Harbaugh, Barb Kelly, Pat (Mike) Cooksey, as well as nieces, nephews, and cousins. Ellen was preceded in death by her parents, and sister-in-law, Sharon Stork.

A funeral mass will be held at 11:00 A.M. on Thursday, June 10 at St. Francis of Assisi Parish: St. Henry Catholic Church, 211 W. Olive St., Marshalltown, IA. For those unable to attend, the service will be available on the Mitchell Family Funeral Home Facebook page. A luncheon will take place at the church following the service. Visitation will be held from 5:00 to 7:00 P.M. on Wednesday, June 9th at the Mitchell Family Funeral Home, 1209 Iowa Avenue W., Marshalltown, IA with a 7:00 P.M. vigil service and rosary recitation. She will be laid to rest at a later date in Valmeyer, IL.

Memorial contributions may be made to the American Diabetes Association or to the Marshalltown Public Library “Bookmobile Fund,” which is an outreach program that will visit local schools, community events, and make regular stops at the nursing homes for those with limited access to the library.

Starting at $4.38/week.

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