November 15, 1937 - August 31, 2016


Memorial services will be at 1PM Saturday, September 17, 2016 at Williams Dingmann Family Funeral Home, St. Cloud for Ellen M. Ragan Zaldo who died Wednesday at Cherrywood Advanced Living in Richmond. Chaplain Jim Neppl will officiate. Friends and family may call one hour prior to services at the funeral home in St. Cloud. A celebration of Ellen’s life is also planned for a future date in Virginia Beach, VA.

Ellen was born November 15th, 1937 in New York, NY to Dr. Charles Alexander Ragan, Jr. and Josephine Forbes Parker. On October 16, 1965 she married William Thomas Zaldo, III, an army officer with whom she raised three children and travelled the world, recording 30 mailing addresses in as many years. Ellen earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Maryland and a Master of Science degree in Rehabilitation Counselling from California State University, Sacramento. She continued studies in family systems, psychotherapy and psychodrama. A voracious reader and writer, she was never without a pile of books, professional publications, or journals.

During her career as a licensed professional counselor, Ellen served as a clinician, administrator, consultant, researcher, educator, and trainer. She practiced in a variety of substance abuse and mental health settings, as well as in private practice. As a dedicated practitioner, her specialties included abuse and sexual trauma, alcoholism recovery and drug addiction recovery, grief therapy, relationship disorders, military family issues, expressive therapies, and infertility issues. At the very onset and throughout her career, she was creative, innovative, inspirational, insightful, and forward thinking. With compassion, she sought to empower her clients, students and patients. A gentle and gracious healer, she was never without just the right encouragement, empathy, or reflection.

Ellen drew people to her with a beautiful smile and aura, keen intelligence, wise spirit and quick wit. She loved gathering people together as she loved good food, music, movies, fresh flowers and collecting sea shells and fine art. She had flare and a sense of style and etiquette rivaled only by her ability to conjure a prank or to unpack a moving truck into the family’s next exquisitely decorated home in no time flat. An unconditional lover of life, her family, friends and dogs, she was never without something to give or to share… an idea, a humorous impersonation, a thoughtful encouragement, a knowing smile, a piece of wisdom, a listening ear, or maybe even just “the look.”

Though her earthly light leaves us like a shooting star, her gifts of love, humor and healing, and the lessons of life she imparted will never be extinguished.

Ellen is preceded in death by her parents; her son, Michael Edward Zaldo; nephew Brian Sur; brothers-in-law Pat McCann and Martin “Red” Zaldo; and cousin Peter Ruehl.

She is survived by her sisters Jody McCann and Maizie (Ron) Jaffee; brother Chuck (Julie Hoff) Ragan; sister in-law Julie Zaldo; daughters Jackie (Eric) Hampton and Ragan (Fred) Cheney; daughter in-law Tracy Zaldo; five grandchildren - Nate Hampton, Davis and Annika Cheney and Mary Grace and Sam Zaldo; cousin Mercedes Ruehl; many nieces and nephews; and a sisterhood of friends around the world.

Ellen’s family wishes to extend heartfelt gratitude to the staff of St. Croix Hospice and Cherrywood of Richmond, Minnesota for the constant, tender and dignified care granted along the way.

In lieu of flowers, contributions to a charity of choice in Ellen’s name are preferred.