Ellen Stewart Alter ’68: July 1926 – August 2018

Ellen Stewart Alter ’68: July 1926 – August 2018

It is with much sadness that we share this news from Steve Alter that his mother, Ellen Stewart Alter passed away on August 23, 2018. With heartfelt condolences to Steve and Ameeta and the entire Alter family from Woodstock School.


Ellen Stewart Alter, 92, of Wooster Ohio passed away peacefully on August 23, 2018, following a brief illness.

She was born on July 12, 1926 in Franklin, Pennsylvania. Her parents, Bertha Wood and F. Leslie Stewart, were both teachers, a profession that Ellen also chose because of her love of literature and drama.

After graduating from Westminster College, Ellen traveled to India to teach at Woodstock School, a Christian international school in Mussoorie, a town in the Himalayan foothills. She and her husband, Robert Alter were married there in 1948 and later worked as Presbyterian missionaries in Mainpuri, Fatehgarh and Etah as well as at Woodstock, where they remained on the staff until 1978. In addition to teaching English, Ellen was Alumni Secretary at Woodstock and edited The Quadrangle, the alumni journal.

Though Ellen maintained strong ties with her family in Pennsylvania, she made India her home for most of her adult life. She studied Hindi and spoke it fluently. Ellen and Bob’s house in Mussoorie, “Oakville”, was always open to family and friends. After retirement, they settled in Wooster and lived here for more than twenty years, though they returned to India regularly for annual visits.

Ellen and Bob were married for 63 years, before he passed away in 2011. They were both members of the First Presbyterian Church in Wooster. Ellen had a passion for theater and poetry, as well as reading and films. She directed and acted in a number of plays at Woodstock School. Her poetry expressed a joy for nature’s subtle mysteries and the gentle epiphanies of daily life.

Ellen is survived by her three sons and daughters-in-law: Stephen (Ameeta), Joseph (Nicole), Andrew (Frances). She had six grandchildren: Jayant, Shibani, Peter, Nathaniel, Nicola and Benjamin.

A memorial service will be organized at the First Presbyterian Church later this year. According to her wishes, Ellen’s ashes will be taken to India for burial beside Bob in the Landour cemetery, Mussoorie.

1 Comment
  • Seilen Haokip
    Posted at 15:20h, 01 September Reply

    Through my years at Woodstock School as a staff member (1981-1993) at Clifton, Ridgewood and the Elementary School, and during some involvement with St Paul’s Church and my stay at Oakville Lodge, I occasionally met Bob and Ellen and enjoyed chit chatting with them. I even had the opportunity to stay at Oakville for about a month, just before leaving Mussoorie in Spring 1993. At the time, Bob was at the house, and Ellen, I think was in the States. Mangal, the cook, used to feed us rather well with great dishes. Fond memories linger of Bob and Ellen’s kindness and good humour.

    I’d heard of Bob passing away in 2011 from Cathy Holmes, former Dir of Admissions and my neighbour at Eastwood Cottage. I am thankful I happened to click on the Woodstock Website (actually to look up a telephone number to contact Steve, who I was told is in residence with Ameeta at Oakville) and saw the news of Ellen passing away on 29 August.

    I convey sincere condolences to Steve, Joseph, whom I met only once and remember his conversation re wrestling, and to Andrew and Frances, who were also staff members at Woodstock during my time.


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