Mary Nicholas-Vanderhoof RUTLAND — Mary Ellen Nicholas-Vanderhoof, The Meadows, Rutland, Vermont, previously of Leesburg and Boyce, Virginia, went to be with the Lord Dec. 26, 2020, surrounded by family; she was 75. She was born to C. David and Ruth Vanderhoof on Dec. 23, 1945, at St. Joseph's Hospital in Paterson, New Jersey. As a youngster, her passion for animals began at an early age when she convinced her father to build a barn and support the acquisition of a couple of Toggenburg goats. Mary Ellen graduated from Iowa State University in 1968 with a degree in Agricultural Journalism and was married in 1969 to John Nicholas. She worked for the Department of Agriculture in Washington, DC, until she and John purchased a farm in Leesburg, Virginia, where they raised Limousin cattle and what would become her passion, an endangered large breed of donkey, American Mammoth Jackstock. She raised these and sold them all over the United States for at least 25 years with a few landing back in Mount Vernon where George Washington and Henry Clay had begun popularizing the breed in 1788. Mary Ellen was a lifetime member of the Livestock Conservancy and worked with the Conservancy for over 15 years, including serving on the board. She had a penchant for teaching tricks to a wide variety of critters, cats, dogs, Clifford the Crow, ultimately ending up with Bentley the Nigerian Dwarf goat on Animal Planet’s show Pet Star. Bentley had a repertoire of 25 tricks, including play dead, fetch, shake hands, beg and pray. Mary Ellen also held jobs with United Air Lines and as a real estate agent for many years, but found her solace on her farm riding, training and caring for her donkeys and a large variety of other pets and creatures, including many feline friends. She is survived by her brother, Peter Vanderhoof and his wife, Rosmarie, of Chittenden, Vermont, their two children, Sarah (Jake) Ward (Molly and Mason) of Shrewsbury, Vermont, and Marc (Kristiana) Vanderhoof (Peter, Thomas and Isaiah) of Osceola, Wisconsin. She was predeceased by her father, C. David, in 1973; and her mother, Ruth, in 2019. There will be a private memorial service for close friends and family at the Clifford Funeral Home, 2 Washington St., Rutland, Vermont, on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, at 2 p.m. Special thanks to the Meadows dedicated staff for the excellent care she received. To make a memorial gift to The Livestock Conservancy in honor of Mary Ellen, please visit http://bit.ly/SupportTLC and note her name in the Comments. You may also choose to mail a check to P.O. Box 477, 33 Hillsboro St., Pittsboro, NC 27312, and support her love for heritage breeds.