Scholarship Created in Honor of Lifelong Ellis Friendship

Like many Ellis women, Patricia GRABLE Burke ’46 and Joan SEAMAN Bradshaw ’47 began their friendship at Ellis. Even though the two women were a year apart in school, the time they spent at Ellis served as the beginning of a friendship that would last a lifetime. 
Patricia and Joan, known as Patsy and Jojo, remained close friends while Patsy finished her high school years at boarding school, through college, while raising families, and after retirement. Due to the bond these women had, their families grew close. What began as a childhood friendship turned into a lasting generational connection resulting in joint spring break trips, family vacations, holidays spent together, and supporting each other through life’s good times and bad. 

“When Jojo passed, they had been lifelong friends and I realized they taught me what it means to be a friend,” says Patsy’s son, Chip Burke. “Their friendship was so profound because they had so much fun together while sharing a deep sister-like bond. They were always there for each other in both life’s joyous moments and tragedy.  They shared a sense of humor that enabled them to always face life with a positive outlook. I think their fondness for Ellis was based on the authentic friendships that they created here.”

Jojo’s daughter, Nancy Foster, recalls a story that summed up their friendship. “My mother graduated from Carnegie Tech and to graduate at that time you had to pass Home Economics. Cooking was not one of my mother’s strengths. The final involved recruiting a friend to eat what you prepared. My mother asked Patsy to be her guinea pig as she knew she could count on Patsy to somehow eat whatever she prepared no matter how it turned out. Thanks to Patsy my mother did pass and graduate.” Nancy also admired their optimistic nature and positive outlook on life. “They always appreciated what they had and looked for the good in every moment never taking themselves too seriously and always able to laugh.”

Jojo and Patsy enjoyed a decades long friendship that was based on honesty, laughter, and unconditional love and support. Like many Ellis friends, they were the first to respond in times of crisis and celebration. To honor their mothers and the lifelong bond that they had, the families have created The Patsy GRABLE Burke ’46 and Jojo SEAMAN Bradshaw ’47 Friendship Fund. This endowed gift will fund full scholarships for three girls, in perpetuity, starting in kindergarten, and following the students throughout their years at Ellis. Upon graduation, or leaving the School, the scholarship money will be given to a new recipient in the Lower School. 

This remarkable gift, one of the largest single donations ever received from an alumna’s family, will provide an Ellis education—and the opportunity to build the same kind of lifelong friendships that Pasty and Jojo enjoyed—to girls who would otherwise be unable to attend the School. The generosity of spirit of these two women, and the friendship that they shared, will live on over the coming decades in the girls and young women who are shaped by their time at Ellis and the friendships they create here.