March 26, 2020

Clida Cora Martinez Ellison, child advocate, social worker, and devoted wife and mother, passed away at the age of 82 on the morning of March 26, 2020.

She leaves behind her husband, Dr. Leonard Ellison, Sr.; and five sons, Dr. Leonard Ellison Jr. (Francine), the Rev. and attorney Brian Ellison (Sharon), Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison (Monica), attorneys Anthony Ellison and Eric Ellison.

Clida, the bedrock of her family, was a dedicated member of Gesu Catholic Church of Detroit, Mich.

Clida hailed from Natchitoches. She was proud of her Creole roots and drew power from her Cane River ancestry, as she once explained to humorist and chef Mo Rocca on “My Grandmother’s Ravioli.” She was an outstanding cook who was especially well-known for her exceptional gumbo. Clida graduated from Xavier University of New Orleans in 1959, where she earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in medical technology. She raised five sons while working with her husband as the office manager of his medical practice. At age 57, after her husband Leonard suffered a debilitating stroke, she went back to school and earned her master’s degree in social work. She then worked for 20 years in the juvenile division of Michigan’s Third Circuit Court. She was still serving young people in the court system weeks before she passed away.

Clida is survived by her husband; sons and their spouses; grandchildren, Lauren, Erika, Tara, Tiffany, Tracy, Marcus, Nehemiah, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Elijah, Amirah, Alexandra, Dominique, TJ, Caleb, Luke and Cora; great-grandchildren, Josh, Nathan and Isla; cousins, Tina, Thad, Rita and David Marty; and many others, including sister-in-law, Thelma; niece, Cheryl, nephew, Eric and their daughter Sydni.

She was predeceased by grandson, Manny; great-grandson, Andrew; her parents, Frank and Doris Balthazar Martinez; grandmother, Cora Balthazar; cousin, Carole; best friend, Leslie Golightly; brother-in-law, Robert; and many aunts, uncles, cousins as well as her ancestor and role model, Marie Theresa “Coincoin” Metoyer.

Funeral arrangements are being handled by James H. Cole Funerals, 2624 W. Grand Blvd. Detroit, Michigan 48208.

Clida’s family and friends will plan a Celebration of Life and Resurrection Mass when the sun is shining and we can share hugs and stories about the beautiful woman we affectionately knew as Clida, Pet, Nana, Mrs. Ellison and Mom.

In lieu of flowers send donations to The Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers (ATSA), ATSA supports research into the development of programs for adolescent offenders.