Ellis, 94, died at an assisted living facility in Concord, Massachusetts. Her son, Alexander Ellis, told the New York Times that she was hospitalized with a fever on December 30 and tested positive for COVID-19.
Although her family formed a Republican dynasty, Ellis has been an outspoken Democrat throughout her life. She was head of the New England chapter of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, in addition to promoting environmental and poverty causes and advocating for the arts.
But Ellis “was a wonderfully energetic activist and cheerleader to his brother,” after George HW Bush announced he was running for president in 1979, Ellis’ son told The Times.
Ellis also campaigned for his nephew, former President George W. Bush. She campaigned in the United States and internationally in London, Paris and Frankfurt, Germany, on behalf of the Republicans Abroad organization, which mobilizes Americans living abroad to vote.
“She was a Democrat who put family first,” presidential historian Jon Meacham told The Times.
“It is part of this great American philosophy which has almost entirely disappeared,” he added. “She was the best kind of aristocrat. There was a sense of service without the slightest hint of snobbery.
The George and Barbara Bush Foundation on Twitter called Ellis “a remarkable woman who brought joy and light to the world.”
We are sad to share that President Bush’s beloved sister Nancy Bush Ellis has passed away. Our condolences and prayers are with the Ellis and Bush families as we remember a remarkable woman who brought joy and light to the world.
– George and Barbara Bush Foundation (@BushFdn) January 10, 2021
Ellis was born on February 4, 1926 in Milton, Massachusetts. She graduated from Vassar College in 1946, the same year she married Alexander Ellis Jr. The couple had four children.
She is survived by her children – Alexander, John Prescott Ellis, Josiah Wear Ellis and Nancy Walker Ellis Black – as well as nine grandchildren, 11 great grandchildren and her brother, Johnathan James Bush.