Ellen H. Hennessey, a retired paralegal who enjoyed skiing and giving parties, died Aug. 20 of complications of heart disease at the Pickersgill Retirement Community in West Towson. She was 86.
The former Ellen Heathcote Wegner, daughter of Roland Wegner, a banker, and his wife, Miriam Allen Wegner, a homemaker, was born in Baltimore and raised on West Joppa Road in Towson.
She was a 1951 graduate of Towson High School where she played field hockey, volleyball and basketball. She also graduated from the Bard-Avon Secretarial School where she was a fencer.
After graduating from secretarial school, she worked for several Towson law firms. In 1956, she married James B. Thomas, a civil engineer; their marriage ended in divorce.
Mrs. Hennessey had been a counselor at Camp Whippoorwill at Lake Shore in Anne Arundel County, and later was a Girl Scout leader.
An outdoorswoman, Mrs. Hennessey was a “fearless camper and outdoor cook,” said her daughter, Miriam Elizabeth Thomas “Mimi” Brandau, who lives in Brooklandville.
When she was in her mid-40s, Mrs. Hennessey enjoyed skiing adventures in the United States and abroad. She continued skiing into her 70s when lift tickets were free to seniors and shared her love of the sport with her grandchildren, with whom she skied.
An accomplished sailor, Mrs. Hennessey sailed the East Coast with her first husband, and enjoyed sailing with her second husband, Thomas L. Hennessey, a lawyer, whom she married in 1978. He had been commodore of the Rehoboth Bay Sailing Association.
She worked in her husband’s Towson law office as a paralegal. He maintained a solo practice that specialized in real estate and eminent domain law. He died in 2003.
She loved hosting family birthday celebrations and organized many parties in Dewey Beach, Delaware, where she and her husband owned a second home and spent their summers.
An avid gardener and flower arranger, she was an active member of the Garden Workshop, where she had served as president and treasurer.
A longtime resident of Valley Lane in Towson, she moved in 2018 to Pickersgill where she had been a member of the board.
Graveside services were private and plans for a celebration-of-life gathering are incomplete.
In addition to her daughter, Mrs. Hennessey is survived by four grandchildren. Another daughter, Ellen Donohue Thomas, died in 2014.