Ellen Hagen Bunch
March 22, 1954 – September 10, 2020
Ellen Hagen Bunch, RN passed away peacefully at home surrounded by family on September 10th, 2020 at the age of 66. She is survived by husband of 45 years, Dr. Richard W. Bunch, her son, Brandon Richard Bunch (Marie), daughter, Leslie Ellen Bunch, RN; granddaughter, Amelie Ellen Bunch; and brothers, Dr. David Lee Hagen (Melissa), Dr. Patrick Cleburne Hagen (Amy), James (Jimmy) Louis Hagen, and Judge Matthew Hill Hagen (Monique); and numerous in-laws, nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends. She was preceded in death by her father, Dr. Werner J. Hagen, her mother, Mrs. Virginia Smith Hagen, and her brother, Stephen Wallace Hagen.
Ellen was born in New Orleans on March 22, 1954 and lived the majority of her life with her family in Houma, Louisiana. Ellen met her husband, Richard (Rick) Bunch, in high school and waited for him while he served in the army and attended West Point Military Academy. After graduating from Vandebilt High school in 1972, Ellen attended Nicholls University and in 1975 graduated to become a registered nurse, a calling that befit her intense passion for caring for people. That same year, Ellen married Rick at St. Gregory Barbarigo Church in Houma, Louisiana.
While working as a registered nurse, Ellen excelled in various fields of nursing care that included orthopaedics, neurosurgery, ICU, med-surg, high risk pregnancies, and home health. She also served 5 years as the Senior Clinic Nurse in the Department of Orthopaedics at Tulane University Medical Center. Ellen constantly amazed co-workers and physicians with her meticulous clinical skills, her prodigious knowledge of medicine, and her ability to think quickly on her feet and remain calm in highly stressful situations. Ellen’s empathy for people had no bounds. Ellen was beloved by all of her patients. It was not uncommon for Ellen, after working a long hospital shift, to be found sitting by the bed of a very ill patient, gently holding the patient’s hand and whispering comforting words to quell the patient’s fears.
Ellen’s career culminated by teaming up with her husband in private practice. She became President of ISR Institute and later, WorkSaver Employee Testing Systems. She worked in this administrative position for 20 years prior to retiring in 2014. During her tenure as President, Ellen proved to be an astute business woman who was instrumental in growing the company into a nation-wide provider of employee fitness for duty testing services and ergonomics. She was highly respected and beloved by industry clients as well as the employees under her supervision.
Ellen was personally known as a philanthropist and for being totally selfless and humble. She was also known for her stunning inner and outer beauty, magnanimous heart, sense of fairness, wisdom, intellect, and unique sense of humor. Ellen avoided gossip like the plague and never had a bad thing to say about anyone. She always looked for the best in people and assumed that any bad behaviors in people were more often not intentional, but instead, were usually related to underlying problems that could be helped by patient understanding and loving compassion.
Ellen loved everyone and truly never knew a stranger. Her beautiful smile and laughter always warmed people’s heart. She loved helping people in need and rescuing animals. As an active volunteer for animal rescue organizations such as Hope for Animals (Thibodaux, La), Ellen could frequently be found spending her weekends, often with her daughter Leslie, helping care for abused and abandoned dogs. The local neighborhood was also well aware of her intense passion for animal rescue with neighbors periodically bringing Ellen all types of lost or injured animals needing care that included stray dogs, cats, opossums, baby squirrels, birds with broken wings, etc.
Ellen loved to read and was a big fan of historical fiction. She passionately loved the outdoors, Broadway theater, and art. She collected oil paintings with her husband from many areas of the world where they travelled. She also enjoyed collecting decorative birds and duck decoys, fishing, dancing, and traveling abroad.
Ellen was a loving mother to Brandon and Leslie, and loving grandmother to Amelie. Both Leslie and Amelie carried the middle name of Ellen in her honor. Ellen was a great listener and developed an extraordinary bond with both of her children. As busy as she was in her career, Ellen still found time to volunteer at her children’s elementary school. She always made sure that Brandon and Leslie studied hard, attended church, and enjoyed numerous extracurricular activities including sports, theater, art, and piano lessons. Ellen believed that educating children was a full-time job extending well beyond the formal curriculum of a school. She always found fun ways on vacations to broaden Brandon and Leslie’s education about the world and people around them. To Ellen, family was everything. Ellen’s mentoring had a huge impact on the careers chosen by Brandon and Leslie. Brandon went on to become a high school algebra teacher and musician, and Leslie followed her mother’s footsteps and became a registered nurse. In her spare time, Leslie also enjoyed delving in art like her mother.
Everyone considered Ellen to be the matriarch and rock of the family. She was looked upon not only as a loving sister by her younger brothers, but also as a mentor, counselor, and second mother. Ellen deeply loved the Cajun way of life and became actively involved with her husband in the South Louisiana Wildlife Carvers (SLWC) Association. Ellen sponsored the SLWC Decorative Bird Division for many years and her sponsorship will be continued in her honor.
After Ellen retired, she volunteered in the Chemotherapy Unit at Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center. It was ironic that soon afterwards she would become a cancer patient there. But Ellen never let cancer define her. Throughout Ellen’s 7 years of battling cancer, which included being severely injured in a motor vehicle accident, she maintained unwavering courage, charm, humor, and a selfless loving personality. She fought the horrific battle of cancer more bravely than anyone could ever imagine. Despite having to experience a myriad of cancer treatments that seemed never ending, Ellen refused to complain about her condition or show any self-pity. Instead, Ellen only expressed gratitude for the great care that she received and sincere concern that others worried too much about her.
Ellen inspired everyone with her unshakable trust in God and optimism about life. The spirit of Jesus Christ could be seen and felt in everything she did during her life. The following poem by Emily Dickinson selected by Ellen for her tombstone, although simplistic, exemplified her life:
If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain;
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.
Throughout her life, Ellen’s compassion, love and faith in God has touched countless lives. Ellen will be terribly missed by her family and friends. The enormous void in our hearts left by her departure will never be filled until we all meet again in heaven.
The family would like to extend their sincere appreciation to Ellen’s wonderful caregivers – Leslie Ellen Bunch, RN (daughter), Dr. Jules Dupont, Dr. Genevieve Maronge, Dr. Katherine Wade, Dr Rabia Catti, Dr. Robert Alexander, Dr. Craig Walker, and Dr. Christopher Cenac, Jr. Also, our sincere appreciation is extended to the healthcare professionals at MD Anderson, Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center, Bayou Home Care, and Heart of Hospice.
Funeral arrangements are being respectfully and professionally handled by Chauvin Funeral Home in Houma, Louisiana. A public visitation will be held from 5:00 PM – 9:00 PM on Friday, September 18th, at Chauvin Funeral Home. Eulogies and a Mass of Christian Burial at St. Francis de Sales Cathedral in Houma, Louisiana will begin at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, September 19th, followed immediately by interment at Francis de Sales Cemetery # 2, West Main Street, Houma, La. The pallbearers are Brandon Bunch, Dr. Ross Bunch, Dr. David Hagen, Dr. Patrick Hagen, James (Jimmy) Hagen, Judge Matthew Hagen, Rick Vega, and Tom Wills. Honorary pallbearers are TJ Wills and Trevor Bardarson.
A compilation of memories of Ellen is being created for the family. We ask that if you have a special memory of Ellen, please provide it online at chauvinfuneralhome.com. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made in Ellen’s honor to the Stephen Hagen Memorial Library at St. Gregory Catholic School, 441 Sixth Street, Houma, Louisiana 70364 or Hope for Animals of Thibodaux, Louisiana.