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Seventeenth Regent (1999-2004)

Ellen M. Carroll, the daughter of Dr. Joseph H. Carroll and Grace Miller, was born in Pittsburgh, graduated from the Ethel Walker School in Simsbury, Connecticut, and attended Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts. In 1953 she married James M. Walton who has served as president of the Carnegie Institute and Library and as a director of Gulf Oil. Currently, he is vice chair of the Heinz Endowments.

Honoring Washington's Death

Elected Vice Regent for Pennsylvania in 1991, Mrs. Walton brought a particular flair for fundraising to the Association. She had been active in civic, educational, and cultural circles in the Pittsburgh area, in 1990 the Western Pennsylvania Chapter of the National Society of Fund Raising Executives named her its Outstanding Volunteer Fund Raiser of the Year.

In December 1999, shortly after being elected Regent, Mrs. Walton presided over a reenactment of George Washington’s funeral involving more than two years of research, approximately 4,000 visitors, and three hours of live coverage on C-SPAN. She then turned her attention to what she called “the most significant expansion of programs and facilities in the Association’s history,” which would include construction of a new orientation center, museum, and education center as well as renovation and expansion of the Mount Vernon Inn restaurant and retail complex. She noted that the Ladies would “need to raise at least $60 million to fund the construction and outreach programs currently on the drawing board.”

Mrs. Walton accepting the National Humanities Medal on behalf of the Association in 2003 from President George W. Bush for dedicated service to the nation. MVLA.

Expanding the Interpretation

For the rest of her tenure, undeterred by a 30 percent decline in attendance following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Mrs. Walton oversaw fund-raising activities for the new facilities. These same years saw the reopening of George Washington’s gristmill, archaeological study at the site of his whiskey distillery, and groundbreaking for the new facilities. Despite the exceptional challenges of this period, the Association exceeded its initially stated capital campaign goal, raising $83 million by the time she handed the reins to her successor. Mrs. Walton resumed her role as Vice Regent for Pennsylvania and was elected Vice Regent Emerita upon her retirement in 2007.

Named a Distinguished Daughter of Pennsylvania in 1991, Mrs. Walton has served on the national board of the Smithsonian Institution and as a trustee of the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation.

Steve Anderson, president of the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation, Mrs. Walton, Reynolds Foundation Chairman Fred W. Smith, and Mount Vernon Executive Director James C. Rees hold a copy of a 1792 painting of the Mansion by Edward Savage. MVLA.

Washington's Gristmill and Distillery

Visit our fully functioning reconstructions of George Washington's Distillery and Gristmill.

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