The designer and visual artist, Ellen Nippolt, known for her ingenuity and fierce intellect, died on July 27, 2021, at her home after a long illness. She was 61. Ellen Elizabeth Nippolt was born on March 28, 1960, in Moorhead, Minn. The daughter of Sharon (Toni) Nippolt and the late Robert J. (Bob) Nippolt, she was the eldest of five children. She was a gifted athlete, playing junior tennis, and showed an early passion for art. She attended schools in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Anaheim and Laguna Beach, Calif., and The Dalles and Hood River, Ore. As a young woman, she had a son, Michael and, still in her teens, she married Wayne Blevins, with whom she had a child, Bianca. After divorce, she studied architecture at Bolton Street College of Technology, in Dublin, Ireland, where she lived for 10 years. There, the enigmatic young designer cut a wide swath. Her marriage to the late Adrian Mannering was on the cover of the Irish Times. Her son Robert was born there. After the relationship ended, she returned to Hood River with her children. She met her partner of 32 years, Steve Wolf, at the River City Saloon, and moved to White Salmon, where her two daughters, Rebecca and Isabel, were born.
She was a talented painter who wasn’t interested in limiting her output to it, viewing herself as an artist not of medium but of environment. Occasionally, she showed her paintings and jewelry in the Columbia Gorge, and wrote and illustrated a children’s book. She always had a project in process, and her kitchen was described as “the best restaurant in town.” When her children were school age, she enjoyed working with teachers and parents in the White Salmon and Hood River schools. During this time, she was involved with the local arts community and working in a myriad of ways, including running her family’s commercial fruit orchard, waitressing, political canvassing, mural painting, and working for a local architect. For many years, a good amount of her time was spent doing the direct maintenance and repairs on her family’s rental properties.
Eventually, she formed Nip Design and turned her focus toward designing new residences, rehabs, landscapes, and interior architectures in the Gorge, including a retail space n Portland’s Pearl District. Her aesthetic is reflected most clearly in her modernist White Salmon home and its edible landscape, which was an architectural anomaly in the Gorge at the time of its design.
Ellen loved hunting for stones, antiques, and oddities, and seascape watercolor paintings, especially at the coast, where she loved digging for clams and cooking crabs with friends and family at Netarts Bay. When she found herself living in increasingly physically challenging circumstances, she continued to enjoy reading, directing the cooking, spending time with her Chihuahuas, Frida and Paco, watching football, discussing politics and literature with her friends around the world via social media, and keeping up with her children and grandchildren.
An uncompromising, mischievous wild child, she leaves behind many friends and admirers. She is survived by her mother, Sharon “Toni” Nippolt; her partner, Steve Wolf; her children, Michael Kremkau, M.D. (Angie), Bianca Jackson (Kate), Robert Mannering (Kirsten), Rebecca Wolf, and Isabel Wolf; her grandchildren, Stanley, Ava, Monroe, and Drake; her sisters, Teresa Nippolt, Kate ( Mark) Huttemann, Nilsa Nippolt, and Anne (Clark) Bryant; and her nieces and nephews, Spencer Vetter, Christian Vetter, Amelia Vetter, Tess Vetter, Nina Huttemann, Cole Huttemann, Sebastian Zeman, and Cullen Bryant.
Remembrances may be made to the MSA Coalition at multiplesystematrophy.org.