Ellen Dahl McCormack

Rancher and Teacher

By Steve Lent, Museum Historian

Ellen Dahl was born on May 2, 1903 in Trondheim, Norway. She came to the United States with her parents when she was six years old. She graduated from Oregon State college in 1923. She taught school in Bend and Prineville for several years.

She became acquainted with William U’Ren McCormack. They were married and moved to operate the family ranch on Bear Creek in 1943. They together operated the ranch with their son William R. McCormack. Ellen’s husband died on Feb. 8, 1956 at a very young age. Management of the ranch was taken on by their son.

Ellen returned to public teaching after her husband’s death. She taught adult basic education classes and was a certified Lawbook instructor. She also was instrumental in developing the Oregon Outdoor Education program as her Prineville 6th grade class became the first to attend an Oregon Outdoor School program. That paved the way for many more schools in Oregon to become involved in outdoor education. Crook County schools continue to have 6th grade classes attend the outdoor school program. It has been a tradition for over 60 years.

Ellen lived in Prineville and became active in several organizations in the community. She had served as president of the Prineville Soroptomists and had been a member of the Red Cross board of directors. She was widely respected in the education field and was a prominent member of the community.

Ellen became ill and passed away at Prineville Pioneer Memorial Hospital on November 20, 1977. She and her husband William are buried in Juniper Haven Cemetery in Prineville.