Ellen Edens Hilderbrand lost her long battle with cancer on January 5, 2013 at the McCall Hospice House in Simpsonville with her loving family at her side. Born on April 21, 1947 in Bennettsville, South Carolina, Ellen was the daughter of the late Gordon and Elaine Edens.
She was a devoted mother, wife and counselor. Ellen graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of South Carolina in 1968 with a degree in English Education. She married Ron Hilderbrand in 1969 and went on to graduate school and earned a MA degree in Rehabilitation Counseling. During her career she worked with inmates at the South Carolina state prison, a sheltered workshop in Boston for challenged clients seeking to obtain job skills, and later at King College and Northeast State Community College in the East Tennessee area working as a guidance counselor.
She was very involved with her home garden and earned Master Gardener status in both East Tennessee and South Carolina where she donated many volunteer hours to beautify the environment. Ellen was a member of Saint Dominic’s Catholic Church for many of the 30 years she lived in Kingsport, Tennessee. She later joined the Holston Valley Unitarian Universalist Church in Gray Tennessee soon after the couple returned from an Eastman assignment in Hong Kong.
During her 4 year expatriate life in Hong Kong, Ellen became interested in Eastern religion and culture. Following her return to Kingsport, TN, she became deeply involved in Shao Lin Martial Arts. She worked hard to become an expert in Tai Chi and practiced for her black belt in Kung Fu.
Survivors include her loving husband of 43 years, Ron Hilderbrand; 2 cherished daughters, Nell Eden and Susan Noel, both of Nashville, Tennessee; precious granddaughter Rachel Wike, also of Nashville; sister Kathryn Hubbard of Florence, SC; brothers Mike Edens of Chapin, SC and Jeff Edens of Houston, TX.
A celebration of her life was conducted on January 12, 2013, at the Greenville Unitarian Fellowship in Greenville SC.