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My Name Is... Sonya Ellingboe

Arts writer for Colorado Community Media, longtime Littleton resident


About me

I was born in Columbus, Ohio, in 1930. My mother was an art teacher and my dad taught economics. We moved to Pittsburgh, and my dad taught at the university there for the rest of his career.

There was a lot of art in our lives. My mother would take me to museums, and my dad would bring me books.

I met Jack Ellingboe in college, and we were married right after I graduated. I worked in a library until our son John was born. In 1956 we moved to Littleton so Jack could work at Marathon Oil. Back then, we said they paid salaries in scenery — you could make more money elsewhere, but it was just so beautiful here.

Life in Littleton

We bought a home in Aberdeen Village. The streets weren’t paved yet — Ridge Road and County Line were still dirt.

Jack served on city council, and we had four children together: John, Kirsten, Karen and Bruce. My life was pretty much feeding kids and schlepping them around. I still took time out to get a babysitter so I could go to the art museum, or I would take a class or something so I could talk to big people.

We opened a book store called Bookhouse in 1970. Jack and I divorced in 1981, and I had to close the bookstore in 1986 because the big box stores were carrying the new best sellers for what I was paying wholesale.

My friend Gretchen Peacock invited me to work at her new newspaper, the Littleton Times. I was like the office manager, but I started writing about the arts too. Sometimes we were up until 3 in the morning doing pasteup. The Healeys bought the paper in the early 1990s, and folded it into the Littleton Independent.

Encouraging the arts

Watching Littleton get more creative and encouraging the arts was what fired me up and still does.

I remember suggesting to city council that we spend 1 percent of the budget on art, like Denver does, and they were absolutely horrified.

I sat on the Fine Arts Committee at Bemis Library, and later helped start the Town Hall Arts Center. Hudson Gardens was another important thing for me. Evelyn and King Hudson were close personal friends of mine.

Family is important to me, and so is making art accessible to as many people as possible. I feel my mission in writing stories isn’t to slam something, but to get people off their sofas to go see it.

Littleton has changed so much, but I’ve been involved in much of it.

I get nostalgic about old things that get overwhelmed, but I think we need to be changing and gaining.

I hope I’m remembered as someone who encouraged people to participate in what pleases them. Getting involved in your community makes a huge difference in how your life proceeds.

Be open to new ideas, even if you sense pretty fast you won’t agree. Keep listening. I’m not big on advice — I’ve been a joiner, and I recommend it.

If you have suggestions for My Name Is, please contact David Gilbert at dgilbert@coloradocommunitymedia.com.


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