Ellen was born the first of three children to William and Virginia Hoffmeyer in 1959. Growing up in Holland, Michigan, Ellen loved to sing and to perform at a very early age, often putting on backyard performances of musicals for family and neighbors. By age 11, she was singing in the adult choir at Holland First Presbyterian Church as well as acting in community theatre and school productions. Ellen also loved the water, spending as much time as possible on the beaches of Michigan’s “West Coast”, swimming and water skiing. At 16, she moved with her family to Schofield Wisconsin, and graduated from DC Everest High School in 1977. During a childhood visit to California, Ellen fell in love with the other West Coast. Following High School, she loaded her belongings into her yellow 1973 Ford Pinto, and traded the Great Lakes for the Pacific Ocean, enrolling in a Travel Agent school in San Diego.
After working for a few years as a travel agent, she switched to the hospitality industry, and began working for Vagabond hotels. While working, she continued her education, eventually getting her degree in Hospitality Management from Cal Poly in Pomona. For the next several years, Ellen worked in the hospitality industry, and started a golf tour business in Palm Springs. Ellen moved to the Bay area in the mid 1990’s, where she joined Menlo Park Church, and began singing in the choir. It was through the Menlo Park choir that she met her husband Dave Hovey, and his loving family. Dave and Ellen were married in this church in 1998.
When their son Jeremy was born with Down syndrome in 2000, Ellen put aside her career, and turned her boundless energy to being Mom, nurse, and a tireless advocate for Jeremy. Her “don’t tell me he can’t” attitude was an inspiration to many as she encouraged and mentored many other families in the Down syndrome community. In 2005, Ellen co-founded the Bay Area Buddy Walk to raise support and awareness for children with Down syndrome, and continued to serve on the Buddy Walk board for many years. To supplement their family income, Ellen operated home businesses, selling Discovery Toys and Wildtree Foods, and used those platforms to encourage and mentor other women. When Ellen was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2015, she faced it with the same courage and positive spirit, continuing to support and encourage those she met along the way, and fighting to the end.