"The Advertiser", 27 June 2009

A Life Filled With Music

      Ellen was a very special lady and the last of her pioneering, musical, West Coast family. Her great grandfather, Giorgios Tramountana (sic), arrived by sailing ship at Port Adelaide in 1842.

      The first Greek settler in South Australia, he changed his name to George North. His first years were spent in the Southern Vales and was a wine and brandy maker for John Peake at the winery known now as the Old Clarendon Winery.

      George returned to the sea on the recently commissioned Admella. He was discharged from the ship in 1858, a year before it sank in a heavy storm off the Victorian [recte South Australian] coast with a loss of 89 lives.

      George had met an English girl from Devon, Lydia Vosper, and they married in Port Adelaide in 1858. Soon after they travelled to Port Lincoln, settling near Green Patch. Later they moved farther up the coast with their two sons, George and Hero, settling finally at the "Bald Hills" and "Newland Grange" at Colton.

      Ellen worked tirelessly in her later years to research George's life, and to bring to light the previously untold story of the State's first Greek settler. Her efforts were rewarded in 1993, when a monument to George was unveiled by the then Premier Lynn Arnold at the Ridleyton Greek Home for the Aged. She subsequently published a short volume entitled A Greek Pioneer in Australia.

      Hero North married Rose Boylan, the daughter of another pioneering family. Their eldest son, Alexander, married Agatha Hereen, whose family had arrived from Ireland in October 1840.

      Alexander and Agatha had five children - Clair, Eileen, Martin, Joan (Mackenzie) and Gregory. Theirs was a very musical family, and "The North Band" played at many country dances over the years.

      In her early 20s Ellen visited her aunt in Melbourne where she was introduced to Frank Purcell. He was manager of the Myer Emporium electrical department, in the Bourke Street store. They were married in March 1939. Frank joined Brash's Electrical and Music Storesusequently, and was appointed director.

      Ellen had always wanted to return to South Australia and in September 1957 Frank became general manager of the Savereys Dobbies Group.

      He joined John Martin's soon after, and established John Martin's Electrical World, a very successful enterprise. He became an associate director of the company, and remained in that role until his retirement i 1978. He died in 2004, aged 91.

      Ellen had a sharp, clear intellect, a quick wit, and was jovial company. A gifted pianist, she played every day.

      Living by her philosophy "always look for the best in people", she had a long and fulfilling life.

      Ellen is survived by daughter Wendy.