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Ellen Gahagan

October 18, 1950 July 29, 2021
Ellen Gahagan
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Obituary for Ellen Gahagan

Ellen Gahagan passed away peacefully at her home the evening of July 29, 2021, with her siblings and brother-in-law by her side. She was 70 years old. Ellen led a quiet but resolute battle against gastroesophageal cancer, keeping it at bay with extraordinary grace and courage.

Ellen was born on October 18, 1950 in Detroit, Michigan, the first child of John and Marion Gahagan. She spent most of her childhood in Farmington Hills, graduating from North Farmington High School in 1968. She attended the Justin Morrill College at Michigan State University, earning a Bachelor of Arts in 1972.

After graduation, Ellen pursued public relations and marketing work. Her first jobs were with small advertising agencies and then she spent several years as a coordinator in the Special Events department at J.L. Hudson’s department store, headquartered in downtown Detroit.

An earlier temporary job with the Detroit Pistons later turned into a full-time role. Ellen’s time with the Pistons spanned from their days at Cobo Hall, to the Pontiac Silverdome, and then on to the Palace of Auburn Hills. She eventually rose to the title of Vice President of Marketing, handling a wide range of Palace Sports & Entertainment events. After over 30 years with the organization, Ellen retired in 2011.

She lived for a time in the family home in Hudson, Michigan, the town where her parents retired, and where the Gahagan family has a history that dates back to the 1800s. Ellen moved back to Bloomfield Hills in 2018.

Ellen — “Aunt E”, “Elle” or just “E” — lived for family. She maintained close ties with her siblings and her nieces and nephews, her early childhood friends and their families, and all the close friends she made during her extraordinary career. She traveled regularly to visit her friends and relatives. With cousins on both Coasts, Ellen was described as the “Michigan Hotline”, keeping everyone connected and up to date.

Ellen was an avid reader with a preference for mysteries and she enjoyed a good British detective series. After her basketball days, she became a dedicated fan of Premier League soccer, with a soft spot for the Liverpool team. She could recount every author, character, or player with ease.

But if there was anything that demonstrated Ellen’s curiosity, tenacity and energy, it was her love of walking. Her work sometimes required it, and she did it for pleasure around town, or in far flung places. As her nephew, Griffin, put it, walking fulfilled “her perpetual appreciation for everything around her.” That passion for taking it all in inspired multiple trips to her favorite places, Ireland and Montana. On trips to New York, she always insisted “we can walk it” instead of taking a cab (much to this author’s chagrin). One look at her extensive walking shoe collection tells a bigger story about Ellen: she was well-equipped to go on and on for miles— and now, her spirit will allow her to go on and on forever.

Ellen is survived by her brother Stephen (Gail) Gahagan of Lake Orion, and sister Anne (Rick Dennis) Gahagan of Bloomfield Hills, her nephew Alec Gahagan, nephew and fiancé Griffin (Katie Muenck) Dennis, and her beloved niece Claire Dennis.

Ellen was preceded in death by her parents, John and Marion Lynch Gahagan, her brother Tom Gahagan, her sister Sarah Gahagan, and her former brother-in-law Jeffrey Williams.

Friends and family are invited to remember Ellen on Thursday, August 5, 2021 at the location of
Lynch & Sons Funeral Directors, 1368 N. Crooks Road, in Clawson, Michigan. Visitation begins
at 3 p.m. with a Memorial Service that starts at 6 p.m.

Memorials appreciated to Alternatives for Girls or Christ Child Society of Detroit.


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