Barnes H. Ellis “The role of a lawyer is to be a good citizen”

Barnes and Molly maintained contact through letters. In the summer of 1959, Barnes saw Molly again when he found work as a farm hand on the Ridgefield, Washington farm of Aubrey and Constance Morgan. Aubrey was Welsh, a former cricketer, and a former senior officer in the British Information Service where he worked on U.S. public opinion towards Great Britain. His work included orchestrating Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s several U.S. visits during the war. Constance (Morrow) Morgan was a graduate and trustee of Smith College. Her sister Anne was a well-known author and married to the aviator Charles Lindbergh. Their father, Dwight Morrow, an Amherst classmate of Calvin Coolidge, had been a very successful U.S. Ambassador to Mexico.

Barnes recalls, “The Morgans liked to have college kids work on the farm by day and discuss world affairs at night.”  A hard day’s work could end with fascinating conversation over brandy and cigars in the evening. The Morgans took him on trips to Ashland, Central Oregon, and to Grand Coulee, Washington.  Barnes liked what he saw of the region and he continued to court Molly Cleland, who he was able to see several times during the summer.

Molly Cleland marries Barnes Ellis in 1962.

Barnes graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Yale in 1961. He worked that summer in Washington, D.C. at Food for Peace, headed by a recently-defeated South Dakota member of Congress named George McGovern (the future U.S. Senator and 1972 Democratic  nominee for president).  Barnes had space in the Executive Office Building adjacent to the White House during the “Camelot” period of the Kennedy presidency. From there he drove west for his first year of law study at Stanford Law while Molly completed her master’s degree in education.  They were married in August 1962 in Oregon City.  The couple moved east and Barnes finished his law studies at Harvard.

Barnes recalls, “Harvard Law was serious work, but I did well and enjoyed learning the field.” He made law review at both Stanford and Harvard. Working on the Harvard Law Review introduced him to several of his brightest classmates—including future U.S. Supreme Court Justice Steven Breyer, Yale law professor Owen Fiss, and First Circuit Judge Michael Boudin. Molly taught high school French in Medford, Massachusetts, but when she told the school that she was expecting their first child, she was required to stop teaching because the school thought it would be awkward for the students to be taught by a pregnant woman.  Their first child, Cynthia, was born in July 1963. 

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