STUART AND ME
by Mitchell

The story of Stuart Ellis and me begins with the death of his lover, Warren, my best friend. Although I had known Warren since 1980, 14 years before his passing, I had never formally met Stuart other than through brief chats on the telephone when I had called Warren. Stuart and he had been lovers for nearly 40 years.
Stuart attended the University of Minnesota, moved to California in the 1940s and had lived in Pacific Palisades since 1957. He owned and operated a restaurant in West Los Angeles from the '50s to the '70s. Until the age of 78, he also played tennis! He was a dedicated duplicate bridge player to the very end was an active member of the Palisades Presbyterian Church, as well as a library volunteer.
Oddly, having known him only on the telephone for so many years, it was a telephone call that finally initiated my direct relationship with Stuart after Warren died of kidney failure in 1994. I phoned to offer my condolences. He later telephoned me with information about Warren's memorial service, which I attended. A month afterward, Stuart invited me to his home for dinner. One thing led to another. We started dating.
Three times a week, Stuart would put together a picnic lunch and drive out to Hollywood, where I worked, and we would head for a local park where we spread a blanket on the ground and ate the lunch he had brought. It was a beautiful courtship. It was over these picnics in the sweet fresh air that we fell in love.
We decided to share our lives. We were a happy pair, as displayed by the photograph below. It was taken at our last Christmas together, in 1998, little more than a month before his sudden death on a tropical isle far from my loving arms.

We traveled extensively together, but only as my work schedule would permit. When I couldn’t go, he went with his friend George from San Francisco or with his lesbian friend, Glessie, who declared that Stuart was her best traveling companion. She and he had signed on for numerous trips as a twosome, passing for a typical elderly married couple among the other people on the tours -- until Glessie started hitting on the young female servers in the dining room!
An enthusiastic traveler, Stuart was one of the first American tourists to visit China. He was well acquainted with Europe, had seen much of South America, and once lived for several months in England where he had many friends. Recent trips included visits to India, and to the ancient city of Petra in Jordan, and to Egypt.
Our most memorable jaunt was to Antarctica. It was quite wonderful and fascinating. Despite his age, he really got around. My heart jumped for joy watching him spring in and out of the zodiac boats that took us from ship to shore for excursions among the penguins!
We were members of the San Fernando Valley Prime Timers Club. We attended all their events and always looked forward to their annual New Year's Eve Ball in Palm Springs.
Born in Minnesota on March 11, 1919, my Stuart died on January 22, 1999, in Hawaii where he was visiting friends and playing in a bridge tournament. He was a man who loved living life and proved it to the end.
How I miss cuddling up in bed with him! And I miss going to the theatre with him! He loved the musicals Rent and Chicago and all the plays that came to the Colony Playhouse, the movies Fargo, Happiness, Evita and In & Out, the television shows Ally McBeal, Keeping Up Appearances, Absolutely Fabulous, and As Time Goes By.
Most of all, I know that Stuart loved me, and I know for a certainty that I loved him. I feel as though the center has been removed from my soul. I miss him. I shall miss him all the days of my life. If you had known him, you would, too.

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