AdministratorFebruary 13, 2021 at 10:34 pm
I got the call this morning — friend, mentor and industry icon Ellen Cheever had passed in her sleep. It’s such a huge loss for our entire industry, I don’t even know how to process it.
I met Ellen for the first time at an industry event back in 1994. I had to introduce a speaker at a conference, and was battling terrible nerves about getting up and talking in front of strangers. She was the keynote speaker, slated to give the big talk later in the day, but she noticed my discomfort and immediately asked, “How can I help?” That seemed to be her mantra in life; she was forever juggling dozens of important projects, but somehow always found time to lend a hand, an ear, a supportive word.
Over the years, we talked many timed about public speaking; despite her incredible facility for it, she never fully got over the nerves herself. She used to say, “I get there as early as I can so I can prepare, and then I talk to the guests as they arrive. That way by the time I have to get up and speak, I know them, so it feels like I’m talking to friends, rather than a roomful of strangers!”
That was Ellen in a nutshell: humble, helpful, hard working, hyper organized, and someone who made friends everywhere she went.
I was fortunate to have worked with Ellen on many projects; I edited her stories, assisted her on creating educational sessions and seminars, and at the time of her passing, we were working on a book collaboration. Through all of it, I never ceased to be more than a little awed by her endless energy, incredibly knowledge and talent, and profound generosity in sharing all of that with the industry and those lucky enough to be in her orbit. She was truly legendary, not just in the body of work she amassed, but in the body of relationships — she was a teacher, mentor and friend to so many people, and all of us were the better for it.
When I told her about my vision for KB Designers Network, in typical fashion, the first four words out of her mouth were, “How can I help?” And help she did, providing insights, acting as a sounding board to bounce ideas, reviewing content, making suggestions, and sometimes just encouraging me when I felt overwhelmed. She was not only an important part of our Advisory Board, she was also our biggest cheerleader, and I will be forever grateful to that.
The first time I saw her, the designer standing next to me whispered, “That’s Ellen Cheever, she’s the queen of kitchen design.” Yes, she wrote the book on kitchen design (literally, having written the first kitchen design book back in the early 70s), but she was also a queen in all the ways that mattered in life: She led by example, and she was strong, generous, thoughtful, gracious, insanely talented, genuine, incredibly hard working, brilliant, classy, and one of the kindest people I’ve ever met. I feel honored and privileged to have known and worked with her for the past 27 years, and I am heartbroken, as I’m sure everyone who knew her is. Her loss is one that will be felt not only by her husband, family, friends and colleagues, but by the entire kitchen and bath industry.
Rest in peace, Ellen. We love you!!
MemberFebruary 15, 2021 at 4:13 pm
So beautifully written Janice. Ellen’s sudden passing is truly the end of an era in our Industry. I am beyond saddened….
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