Smart Growth for Vernon, CT
Marmer to be honored Saturday for service to community

By Suzanne Carlson
Journal Inquirer
Published: Wednesday, February 17, 2010 11:50 AM EST

Ellen Marmer, a pediatric cardiologist and former Vernon mayor, sits among an office full of plaques and trophies from her involvement in community service. (Jim Michaud / Journal Inquirer)

VERNON — The University of Alabama Medical Alumni Association has chosen former Mayor Ellen Marmer as its recipient of the 2010 Hettie Butler Terry Community Service Award.

In 1964, Marmer received doctorate from the school in Birmingham, Ala., where she also met her husband, Harold Shapiro.

Since 1969, Marmer and Shapiro have operated private medical practices in neighboring suites in the same office building on Hartford Turnpike; she in pediatric cardiology, and he in pediatrics.

The alumni award ceremony, which will take place on campus Saturday will offer both Marmer and Shapiro a chance to visit the campus where they first met so many years ago.

“Harold and I both are excited to go back and visit, see old friends,” Marmer said in an interview Friday.

Though neither has been back to their alma mater in years, their connection to the campus remains strong, particularly for Marmer, a devoted fan of the university’s sports teams.

“I’m the real sports fanatic in the family. If U of A is playing, I’m watching. I don’t care if they’re playing tiddlywinks, I’m rooting for Alabama,” Marmer said, laughing.

A shelf in her office is devoted entirely to Alabama memorabilia, and virtually every other available surface of the suite displays mementos of Marmer’s hobbies and passions, from the Iditarod to softball, and luge — she served as the volunteer doctor to the Olympic team at Lake Placid in 1997.

Marmer’s resume, which is now 14 pages with the addition of this most recent award, doesn’t even begin to cover all that she has done in and around the Vernon community.

Since 1976, she has been a sports physician at Rockville High School, and can be seen on the sidelines at home football games, cheering on the team and assisting with injuries. She’s sponsored and coached numerous community athletic teams, including Marmer’s Softball Team from 1977 to 1996, Dr. M’s youth softball team, Ellen’s Electrodes coed volleyball team, and was captain of the Rockville women’s league bowling team from 1984 to 2002 during which she gained membership in the league’s 500 club.

Marmer served two terms as mayor of Vernon from 2003 to 2007 in addition to her years of service in town government dating to 1985, when she first served on the Town Council.

Professionally, Marmer has served in numerous capacities, from vice president of the board of directors for the American Heart Association, to the A.E.D. consultant for the Police Department. She has been on staff at nearly every hospital in the state, in addition to teaching at Yale University and other medical schools where she has provided students with her unique expertise on childhood heart conditions.

She also offers her medical expertise to a veterinarian friend who was tired of seeing puppies with congenital heart defects destroyed by breeders who knew they couldn’t sell the imperfect animals.

That’s not on her resume, “but I do surgery on the puppies to correct their heart conditions, and then we try to find homes for the dogs as family pets, because they can’t be used as show dogs,” Marmer said.

Though she is concerned with rescuing animals, Marmer’s primary passion is helping children — even after they’re not really children anymore.

Marmer said that she’s been seeing many of her patients since they were born, and some of those children now are out of school and uninsured.

“I can’t turn them away,” Marmer said. “It’s not like their heart condition has gone away, what are they going to do? So I keep seeing them.”

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