In Memoriam: Ellen B. Coller

Longtime New York-Pennsylvania Collector marketing and advertising manager, Ellen B. Coller passed away April 21 in Rochester, New York.

According to an obituary published in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, Ms. Coller was born in Brockport, New York and earned a degree in library science from Nazareth College.

As marketing and advertising manager for the Collector, Ms. Coller worked with the paper’s original owner and founder, Andrew Wolfe. In fact, her professional relationship with Mr. Wolfe was long-term: years and years before working at the newspaper, Ms. Coller had been babysitter for Mr. Wolfe’s children.

At the time she was marketing and advertising manager, the Collector was a three-section, tabloid format newsprint publication. Antiques dealers, show promoters, auctioneers and the antiques service industries filled the paper’s pages with advertising; the paper’s editorial content was written by a large group of freelance writers under the guidance of a managing editor. Back then, cutting and pasting was literally what was done in order to put the Collector together. As editors seemed to come and go, many with short tenures, the energetic Ms. Coller continued her marketing role and expanded her responsibilities to include editorial management. When the Wolfe family sold the paper  to the Canandaigua-based Messenger publication group owned by the Ewing family, Ms. Coller persisted, guiding freelancers and the new owners into the niche world of journalism and promotion about antiques.

Ms. Coller’s subtle editorial direction was exemplified on those occasions when she handed the present writer a roll of 24 – instead of 36 – exposure 35mm film when assigning a story. The subtext: there was no point in wasting film and its development costs on less-significant stories – and inept photographers. Upbeat and cheerful, Ellen was an enthusiastic booster for the broadly defined antiques businesses and the wide range of collecting interests possessed by Collector readers. Often, she would command listener attention by beginning her sentences with a strong, pleasantly audible voice that dramatically dropped to a whisper as she reached the portion of her thought for which she most wanted listeners’ close attention.

Ms. Coller is survived by her daughter, Amy, and son, Greg, and her two brothers, Daniel and Thomas. Contributions in her memory can be made to the National Susan B. Anthony Museum & House and to Nazareth College.

Ellen B. Coller, December 3, 1943 – April 21, 2018

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