Glenn William “Bill” Elliott

Date of Birth

June 3, 1928

Date of Death

February 10, 2017

Our beloved Bill died at home on February 10, 2017 after a lengthy illness. Born June 3, 1928 in Wheatland, Wyoming, he grew up on the family farm in Mitchell, Nebraska. His parents were Glenn Weaver and Retta Springer Elliott. The farm was part of land homesteaded and purchased by the three Springer brothers (one of whom was his grandfather) who had passed through the North Platte Valley along the Oregon Trail. Life on the farm taught Bill and his four sisters the value of family, community, and work and instilled a respect for the land and all living things.

He earned a B.S in Mathematics and an M.A in Educational Psychology from the University of Nebraska. After serving as a 1st Lieutenant, Field Artillery, in Korea he completed his Ph.D. in Psychology and Education from the University of Denver. Bill, his wife, Dorothy Harnsberger, and their daughters Amy and Elizabeth then moved to California where he was Guidance Coordinator for the San Diego County Department of Education and then School Psychologist for Carlsbad Union School District. In 1963 he began a career in the Goleta Union School District serving as Director of Pupil Personnel Services, Director of Title I,III, and V ESEA projects, and School Psychologist until his retirement in 1989. He developed the interdisciplinary model for Goleta’s Child Study Team.

Bill married Susan Cherney Ehrlich in 1982 and their combined family included John William Elliott, Bill’s grandson/adopted son and Leigh and Dave Ehrlich. They hosted many exchange students, had wonderful travel experiences and shared a passion for birding. Bill was a master pie baker and indulged his wife by learning to tango. He read avidly, relished the exchange of ideas, and could never resist buying a book of poetry.

He taught graduate level courses in Education through the University of California, Santa Barbara, and California Lutheran College and supervised counselor interns from UCSB.

He was a licensed Clinical Psychologist and a member of the American Psychological Association, several state counseling and psychological organizations, and the Santa Barbara County Psychological Association.

He was an early volunteer supervisor with the Santa Barbara Night Counseling Center and a founding member of the Isla Vista Youth Project. He served on the boards of the local March of Dimes, the Santa Barbara Mental Health Association, and the Goleta Valley Land Trust and was a member of the Santa Barbara County Mental Health Commission. In 2013 he was honored by the Legal Aid Foundation of Santa Barbara as a Hero for Justice for his assistance to elderly and disabled clients helping many avoid eviction and homelessness.

He was preceded in death by his son John and his sister Eleanor Ganz of Lincoln, Nebraska. He is survived by his wife Sue, his daughters Amy (Victor) Gallant of Cloverdale, Oregon, Elizabeth (Stephen) Green and grandsons Bryan and Brennen Green of Lake Oswego, Oregon, David Ehrlich (Cheryl) of Hercules, California, Leigh Ehrlich (Alexander Ivanov) and granddaughter Aurora Ivanova of Moscow, Russia and Santa Barbara, and sisters Arlene Buffington of Mitchell, Clela Duemler of Madison, Wisconsin, and Donna Swaim of Tucson, Arizona.

Bill’s life work was helping people to grow. He had a generous spirit and a warm and caring heart. His school office was well supplied with scrap wood, tools, glue and nails because therapy was not all talk, and he and his kids wore out many pairs of batakas. After retiring from the schools, his clients ranged from toddlers to seniors to group home kids to Santa Barbara’s homeless. He traveled about town in his “therapy” van and designated a picnic table at the beach where the homeless could find him.

A modest, unassuming man, Bill would have shrugged his shoulders and described himself simply as a Nebraska farm boy trying to make his way in the world.

A celebration of his life will be held at a later date in Santa Barbara.

Friends may honor him by remembering Planned Parenthood California Central Coast, Legal Aid Foundation of Santa Barbara, Mental Wellness Center, or Visiting Nurse and Hospice Care of Santa Barbara.


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