School 13

Dr. Ella Van Fleet

September 22, 1941 ~ August 7, 2022 (age 80)


Dr. Ella Maye Webb Van Fleet, age 80, of Scottsdale, Arizona, transitioned from this world on August 7, 2022. She was born in Oneida, Tennessee, on September 22, 1941, to Esau Webb and Flonnie Smith Webb Stephens. Growing up on a dairy farm in rural east Tennessee gave Ella the opportunity to learn how to bale hay, raise chickens, gather eggs, and milk cows because those skills were necessary to help the family survive. As a teenager, Ella sang gospel music in a trio with her sisters and served as a pianist for Pine Creek Baptist Church for several years. She was an excellent seamstress and enjoyed a variety of crafts. She even made her own wedding dress.

Although from very modest beginnings, Ella was a stellar student. She skipped first grade and graduated high school early near the top of her class. She worked her way through her bachelor's degree at Tennessee Tech University (Cookeville) by working as a secretary in the athletic department. She then went to the University of Tennessee (Knoxville) where she earned her Doctorate. While studying there, Ella met the love of her life, David. They lived, taught, wrote, and shared their dreams together in Tennessee, Ohio, Texas, and Arizona, and raised two delightful children. Ella loved going on annual family vacations, spoiling the variety of family pets, and helping anyone when they reached out. She loved family gatherings especially the contagious fits of laughter whenever she and her sisters got together.

Ella taught at the University of South Florida (Tampa) and the University of Akron (Ohio). Eventually David's teaching moved him to Texas A&M University, where Ella became Associate Director of INVENT (Institute for Ventures in New Technology). Ella also taught a course in entrepreneurship with millionaire Clayton Williams, Jr. The course was recognized by the Southern Business Administration Association's Innovation Awards Program and in 1988 Ella won the Leavey Award from the Freedom Foundation of Valley Forge for excellence in private enterprise education. When David moved to Arizona State University, Ella became a consultant for several new businesses. She and David co-wrote several articles and five books primarily dealing with negative workplace issues (bullying, harassment, violence). They had just recently finished collaborating on a sixth soon to be released book

To put the millionaire oilman and the students at ease, Ella introduced him to the class saying, "I thought he was an unemployed teacher because people kept saying he was a man with no class." Her wit and sly smile helped camouflage a string of health issues which she overcame including two back surgeries, ankle surgery, a liver transplant, a hip replacement, and a shoulder replacement. In the end it was Parkinson's Disease with Covid that finally brought her down.

In addition to her parents, Ella was preceded in death by her daughter, Marijke Joi Van Fleet Silvent; stepfather, Thomas Edward Stephens; in-laws, Walter A. and Katherine Beckett Van Fleet; brothers-in-law, Walter Anthony Van Fleet, Robert Simon Van Fleet, John Michael Van Fleet, and Larry W. Clark; and sister-in-law, Katherine J. Van Fleet.

Surviving family includes her husband, Dr. David D. Van Fleet; son, Dirk A. Van Fleet (Burbank, CA); and two grandsons, Edison Jakub and Cajeton Francis Silvent (Idaho). Ella also leaves three sisters, Mary Lou Webb Clark (Farmland, IN), Etta Jane Webb Price (Oneida, TN), and Lynna Ruth Webb (John) Standridge (Harrison, 1N); and a sister-in-law, Patricia Petruzzi (Olean, NY), two special double-first cousins, R.H. Webb and David Webb, plus many nephews, nieces, cousins, and friends.

Ella chose cremation. A remembrance service will be held at the family home in Scottsdale at a date and time to be determined.

This obituary is provided as a courtesy of West-Murley and Jones & Son Funeral Homes for the family of Dr. Ella Maye Webb Van Fleet.

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