Cover photo for Deborah Lynn Ellman's Obituary
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Deb

Deborah Lynn Ellman

d. February 18, 2024

Zionsville

Deb Ellman of Zionsville, Indiana passed away February 18, 2024 at age 56 surrounded by her loving family. Diagnosed with breast cancer in early 2020, she fought valiantly to stay with her loved ones as long as she could, living many months longer than even her doctors expected.  She leaves behind husband, Ron Watson; daughter, Sidney Sky Ellman Watson; mother, Jill Asman; father, Martin Ellman; stepmother, Susanne Ellman; as well as many cousins and friends.

Born and raised in Rockville, Maryland, she excelled at school with a special interest in the performing arts. Through theater, she established a group of lifelong friends.  Her friend group grew and grew through the many stages of her life because anyone who spent time around her quickly realized what an incredibly dynamic, funny and compassionate person she was.  She began college at Syracuse University and later transferred to Hampshire College where she graduated with a degree in documentary filmmaking.

She began a video production career in Washington, D.C. and later landed a job as producer of a popular morning news show in Indiana. Soon after, she met Ron, the love of her life.  They married and adopted their daughter Sidney who, along with their adored Shih Tzu’s, completed their family. They went on to have many exciting adventures together. They traveled extensively throughout the U.S. and Europe and often enjoyed cruises together. They visited Hawaii, one of their favorite vacation spots, on many occasions. Later, Deb and Ron bought a struggling restaurant in the Indy area and worked together to turn it into a very successful and flourishing business.

Deb didn't believe in the phrase "taking on too much," she dedicated herself passionately to any and every cause she felt strongly about.  The most significant of those causes was the environment. One of her many tremendous accomplishments included two years living amongst the Migrant Farm Workers while working on a documentary about their plight, after offering her filmmaking services to Cesar Chavez. Another labor of love was taking on the local government and school board to save a large parcel of land from development. Through her sheer determination, hard work, and keen ability to collaborate with other like-minded people, that land was transformed into a community nature park that is still enjoyed by many today. 

Deb spent several years as a volunteer coordinator for Earth Day Indiana, eventually being asked to become Executive Director, a position she held for four years. Her hard work and dedication earned her accolades and recognition from the Indianapolis Mayor, the Indiana Governor and an Indiana Congresswoman. Deb was awarded The Mayor’s Neighborhood Achievement Award in 2006 and named Indiana Environmentalist of the Year in 2007. 

Yet, amidst her tireless activism and professional pursuits, Deb never wavered in her devotion to family and friends. Even as she faced the unfathomable challenges posed by her battle with breast cancer, she continued to prioritize the needs and well-being of those she loved, above all else. Her final months were a testament to her selflessness and grace, leaving an indelible mark on those who were fortunate enough to know her.  

A celebration of her life will be held on Saturday, April 20, 2024 2:00 PM at Aaron-Ruben-Nelson Mortuary, 11411 North Michigan Road.  Deb would insist on no flowers!  In lieu, please consider making a donation in Deb’s name to one of her favorite non-profits: Daubenspeck Nature Park, Natural Resources Defense Council, Humane Society of Indianapolis (Indy Humane), Inflammatory Breast Cancer Research Foundation, Heartland Unitarian Universalist Church,  Hampshire College, WFYI Public Media.

To order memorial trees in memory of Deborah Lynn Ellman, please visit our tree store.

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