Ellie was a gift!

Ellie was our precious little six-year-old daughter who was killed in a tragic accident. This is a place to remember her sweet spirit and incredible story. Here we celebrate her life and the fond memories created with her. Thank you God for the gift of Ellie!

Ellie Ruth Nigro

February 15, 2005 - January 20, 2012

Eulogy to Miss Ellie

by Marcia Hendershot (Ellie's best friend and our neighbor)

Spunk. If I had to choose just one word to describe my little friend, that would be it. But, oh, so many other words come to mind. Like sweet. Kind-hearted. Little pistol. Talented. Super smart. A true friend.

I don’t think you know how many lives Miss Ellie touched within my family. I talked about her as if she were my own child—enough so that my sister and daughter cried when I told them Ellie had left us. Mind you: My sister was only around her for about 10 minutes, but, in my sister’s words, “Ellie charmed my socks off”.

Here are things I’ll always remember about my little buddy:

She was so shy when we first moved in. She would hide behind the bushes watching me do yard work, half hoping I would see her and half hoping, I think, that I WOULDN’T see her!

As time went on, but before she felt 100% comfortable around me, she would lurk in the bushes and sing to get my attention. Poor thing—I didn’t always have my hearing aid on, and there were days I think she just about burst her lungs trying to get my attention.

One day, after she warmed up to me, I taught her how to play Simon Says. She followed a command that Simon hadn’t given her. I responded, “Oh-oh. Simon didn’t tell you to do that.” She got tears in her eyes, and I felt HORRIBLE!

Of course there’s the famous, “Oh my gosh—a rat!” story the day we found the baby possum. Once she knew the little guy was a possum and not a rat, she was so eager to comply when I suggested we leave the little guy alone so his mamma could find him and cart him off to safety.

She was so STRONG! She assisted me in yard work, doing things most adults would shy away from. I’ll never forget the evening when John was at work and I needed to transfer a “small” tree from a large pot to an even larger one. That girl helped me lift the heavy little sucker into the new pot! Maybe I weakened the poor little girl’s heart from all the work I had her doing—carting mulch here and there, pulling bushes on tarps from one part of the yard to another, lifting watering cans that even I found hard to carry. She was a tough little cookie.

Speaking of tough: She wasn’t squeamish when it came to using her bare hands to help me toss worms into the compost pile. She was so compassionate toward those worms, making sure she placed them next to a kitchen scrap “so they’ll have something to eat”.

I wish I had a nickel for every time I heard her say, “I sure wish I could have a Hershey’s kiss”. Kristen: You said you thought Ellie knew the end was near, given all the cleaning/straightening she was doing around the house. You may recall I speculated that she may have had an ulterior motive, given that her birthday was coming up! But here’s another thought: If she thought her time on this earth was about over, she probably would have been wolfing down all the Hershey Kisses she could get her hands on, not cleaning her room!!!!

Last month we put Christmas music on and danced together. Todd: She showed me how you twirled her when you danced together, and just beamed when she told me about it.

Tyler and Jake: She so looked up to each of you. I’m sure she thought it was pretty cool to have older brothers. While doing yard work could hear your conversations with her while you played outside. I always marveled at how kind you were to include her in games you played with your friends.

I taught her the “See You Later, Alligator/After While, Crocodile” routine. It warmed the cockles of my heart when she would say that.

It mystifies me when children leave this earth before they’ve lived a full life. But here are two thoughts that have helped me accept Ellie’s death: My daughter Shana (who said she always felt Ellie was an extension of herself, knowing how much Ellie meant to me) said that given Ellie’s ease in interacting with older people, she felt that Ellie had an “old soul” that was ready to move on to another place. My sister said it another way: She wondered if Ellie had attained angelhood while on this planet, and was ready to move on. I buy that.

Ellie, if you’re listening: You touched my life so positively; I am so humbly honored to have been your best friend. See you later, Alligator.


by Melanie Byerly
(Ellie's 2 year old preschool teacher)

When Ellie was two
She first came to my class
Now just who
is this sweet girl, I asked

Always full of laughter
Ready with hugs
Her smile and her giggle
Just two things I loved

She loved school right away
And was a constant joy
A great friend every day
To each girl and boy

Independent and smart
Loved writing her name
Enjoyed Music time and Art
Plus reading and games

She loved her big brothers
Talked about them a lot
Always kind to others
Had a beautiful little heart

Thank you God for six perfect years
Help us now to dry our tears
And trust in your promise that after awhile
We'll all, once again, see her sweet smile

The Power of a Hug

by Todd and Kristen (Ellie's parents)

We received the message below and it touched our hearts deeply.

Dear Nigro Family,

As you know it has been a year since Ellie passed away and I just wanted to share with you and your family a personal memory that I have of Ellie. I've been thinking about sharing this with you for some time now, but it’s been difficult for me to put my memory into words. I work at a child care center where Ellie used to visit. I watched Ellie laugh and play so many times and every time I saw her, it just made my day. I was the one who got the privilege of getting to know her, and I got to know her pretty well. This memory is my last memory of her and I think about it all the time. January 18th, 2012, was the last time I saw Ellie.

That day for me was really bad. Any and everything that could go wrong did. I failed a quiz, was late for work, ran out of gas, broke my favorite pair of sunglasses, and the list goes on. Work was hectic that day. I remember one baby just screaming and causing my ever growing headache to get worse. Finally, Ellie came in with a smile as always and ran off to play with the other kids.

I joined them in a game that Ellie was making up and after a while I became distant. I suffer from depression and that night was hard on me and I was at my ropes end, just ready to break down and really hating life. Before I knew it Ellie was standing in front of me looking up at me. I looked down to her and when our eyes met she wrapped her arms around me and gave me the best hug that anyone could ever ask for. I asked her what the hug was for she simply said "just because" and ran off back to her friends and the game.

That one simple hug changed my outlook on the entire day, turning that horrible day into something good. That one hug put a smile on my face for days. The hug your daughter gave me that day changed my day so much that it kept me from self harming, which I've now given up, but at that time was at its worst.

I am so thankful that I got the privilege and honor to meet such an amazing little girl who was so full of love and joy. Ellie was an amazing young girl who is missed every day. I'm sorry for your loss. She is gone, but she will never be forgotten by the people whose lives she touched. Ellie holds a special place in my heart and always will.

Ellie’s Friend

Ellie’s hugs are one of the most prized memories we have, and something we miss every day. This message conveys how Ellie touched us and others with her love and amazing awareness of the people in her life. This memory is such a blessing to us and we want to thank Ellie's friend for sharing.

The Ambassador of Joy

by Marcia Hendershot (Ellie's best friend and our neighbor)

Ellie Nigro entered this world on February 15, 2005. She lived on a short street on a hill but I didn't even know she existed
until after we moved next door to her family in April 2007. I honestly don't remember the first time I saw her, but my guess is that it was sometime in May or June.

Now, for those of you who knew her it may be hard to believe, but at one point in time she was SHY. She was still in that shy stage when we moved in, so even though I was out in the yard a lot and even though we'd see each other frequently, she was reluctant to talk to me. She usually "hovered" nearby.

Click below to download and read the entire beautiful story!

Fun Day

by Todd (Ellie's Dad)

We found a journal that was locked up and finally found the courage to open it. This was one page. Ellie used to always ask me to take her to Claire's. She would browse around at all the cheap jewelry for at least a half hour. And, of course, she loved the pool. Knowing that she is in Heaven, it just warms my heart to know that she loved God, her Father.

See What I Have to Deal With!

by Todd (Ellie's Dad)

Ellie was so much fun and had a great sense of humor. The week before the accident, Ellie, Kristen, and I were shopping. We were supposed to be looking for some shoes, but Kristen walked in and got distracted by some nice clothes on sale and began to browse. Ellie came over to me and I leaned down while she whispered jokingly, “See what I have to deal with!” It was so funny. The next night in the kitchen, I cracked one of my usual corny jokes. As all the eyes rolled at the table, Ellie leaned over to Mommy and whispered with a smile, “See what I have to deal with!” We miss your laugh, sweet Ellie!

Flying with Ellie

by Todd (Ellie's Dad)

I grew up in Utah and have visited one or two times per year for many years. Each time I would bring one of my children. It was a great experience for each child to get some extra attention.

I think Ellie was four and it was her turn to go. Everything was going smoothly. We were somewhere over Kansas, and she looked at me and whispered in my ear "Dad, I've got to go to the bathroom." I don't know if she knew there was a bathroom on the plane, but I told her to follow me. We unbuckled and made our way up the aisle. She was still a bit young to handle everything herself, and she wanted me to go with her because this was definitely all new. So, we both crammed into the tiny little bathroom. When she was done, we both looked for the flush handle. I told her that she could push the button. She did and boy did we both freak out. There was a very loud whoosh and we both jumped and it scared us in that moment. Then, we both laughed and laughed (at each other's reaction). It was such a special moment.

Well done, Ellie!

We were speaking with a good friend, and he said something that warmed our hearts. He said that when Ellie arrived in Heaven, that he thought God might have said something like "Well done, Ellie, well done!" We can just see her smiling at that. She is such an inspiration to us.