KENNEBUNK – The tone for what Patricia Yellis did throughout her life was set when she was young.

Raised in Framingham, Mass., by parents who were heavily involved with the Salvation Army, Mrs. Yellis saw how a religious organization did “huge humanitarian works” to help the greater good.

“That shaped her life’s calling,” said her husband, Mark Yellis. “Coming from a family with a mother and a father who gave constantly, that really set her foundation.”

Mrs. Yellis, who spent her life educating and giving to others, died Tuesday. She was 57.

With a degree in elementary education, Mrs. Yellis spent some time teaching. When her first son was born, she dedicated her expertise to home schooling him, as well as the five other children she had.

Her dedication to her children’s education can be seen in their success, and her husband said he sees his wife in the work they do.

Her son Matthew is now a gymnastics coach in Portsmouth, N.H. Her son Nathanael is working with Heritage Action for America in Washington, D.C. Her son Andrew, who is still in college, has been involved with Living Hope International, an organization that Mrs. Yellis supported passionately.

Her daughter Bethany graduated from college with a two-year degree and helped around the house as her mother’s health declined.

Daughters Elizabeth and Anna were both adopted from China and are still home schooling. They spurred Mrs. Yellis’ interest in Living Hope International.

Through everything they are doing at their various stages of life, her husband said, he “sees Patty shine” in all of their endeavors.

“She’d tailor to our needs,” daughter Bethany said.

“Being home schooled was an extraordinary privilege. It gave me an opportunity I wouldn’t otherwise have had,” son Matthew said.

When Mrs. Yellis and her husband adopted Elizabeth in 1993, her husband said, he thought they were set with five children. However, in 2002, they adopted Anna through the Living Hope Adoption Agency, part of Living Hope International.

“It’s because of adopting children from China,” he said, that the couple got invested in supporting the organization.

Mark and Andrew Yellis have been to China multiple times since Anna was adopted. About two years ago, Mrs. Yellis joined them.

“That was the first time she had met (the children from the orphanage),” Andrew said. “The orphans could tell that she had a lot of love to give and love for them.”

He said the children were often “stand-offish” to foreigners, but his mother made a lasting impression on them. Between visits, the family maintains contact with the orphanages.

Andrew said the children always asked how his mother was, especially when they knew she was ill.

That deep connection has prompted the family to set up the Patty Yellis Memorial Fund for the Orphans of China. Her generous, philanthropic nature will continue on with her children, and will live on through the fund.

Staff Writer Emma Bouthillette can be contacted at 791-6325 or at:

[email protected]


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