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Ellen Cromwell-Cecrle


Ellen, 79, died on March 13, 2022 in Sun City West, Arizona, after a lengthy battle with cancer.
Ellen was born in Memphis, Tennessee, 1942, to Lucius and Dorothy Cromwell. The family moved frequently when Ellen was a child but settled outside Greensburg, Pennsylvania, by the time Ellen was in junior high and in 1960, Ellen graduated from nearby Hempfield High School.
She was the first in her family to attend college, graduating first from Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania and then earning her Master’s Degree from the University of Oklahoma.
Ellen was a professor in the Physical Education Department of Moorhead State University (now University of Minnesota Moorhead) for 32 years, specializing in teaching dance. She also founded the Heritage Dancers, an extracurricular folk dance performing troupe that performed across the Midwest during her tenure.
Ellen was a physical education professional and serious about promoting the professional status of physical education. She served as a board member, president and executive director of MNSHAPE, an organization of Minnesota physical education professionals. She was also active in the American Alliance of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance and the Minnesota Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance, also serving as its executive director.
Dance was a large part of Ellen’s life. She knew the cultural histories, proper costuming and steps to hundreds of folk dances from around the world. She learned to design and sew authentic costumes, from Scottish kilts to double circle skirts with 45 foot ruffled hems from Jalisco, Mexico. She also served as a board member and officer of the Red River Dance and Performing Company, a professional dance company based in Fargo, North Dakota.
Ellen was named Minnesota Dance Educator of the year in 1997 by MNSHAPE. In 1999, she was selected to receive MNSHAPE’s Lou Keller award, recognizing her successful career as a university professor in the fields of physical education and dance.
After retiring in 2000, Ellen and her husband, George Cecrle, split their time between Detroit Lakes, Minnesota and Sun City West, Arizona.
Ellen was actively involved in both of her home churches - Church of the Advent - Episcopal in Sun City West and St Luke’s Episcopal Church in Detroit Lakes. She was also an active member and officer of the Palo Verde Patchers, Sun City West’s quilting club.
Ellen was preceded in death by her parents. She is survived by her husband George Cecrle, Detroit Lakes and Sun City West; her brother, William Cromwell, Jr., Hopwood, Pennsylvania; a loving niece; three special nephews; and 10 great-nieces and nephews.
A Celebration of Ellen’s life will begin at 10:00 A.M. with a visitation with the family, service at 11:00 A.M. followed by a reception on Saturday, April 2, 2022, at the Advent Episcopal Church 13150 W. Spanish Garden Dr., Sun City West, Arizona.
In lieu of flowers: Donations to, Minnesota State University Moorhead Foundation, Sanford Roger Maris Cancer Center, Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center. Please join Ellen’s family in sharing memories, pictures or videos on her tribute wall at www.caminodelsol.com.