Greensburg artist reunited with lost painting that traveled to Mississippi

Hannah Brown
Kiowa County Signal
Ella Mae Marrs of Greensburg painted this picture 30 years ago, but then lost track of it; a person from Mississippi recently contacted her and restored the painting to its original creator.

Kim Cochran and Ella Mae Marrs have never met in person. They don't live in the same state or even the same region of the country. But they are now on a first-name basis thanks to a painting that Marrs, of Greensburg, created in 1992 that Cochran, who lives in Mississippi, purchased in Ridgeland, Miss. last September. Kiowa County Senior Center Director Kari Kyle had a hand to bringing the two women together when Cochran contacted last week her to try to find Marrs to return the painting.

"I purchased the painting at the beginning of September, at the Goodwill in Ridgeland, Mississippi. I enjoy researching paintings and finding out their background. I have searched on and off for Mrs. Ella Mae since September," said Cochran. "I finally found her through a google search for a Facebook post and reached out to the Kiowa County Senior Center." 

"[She] sent a message to me at the Kiowa County Senior Center that said 'I am searching for Ella Mae Marrs. I found her on your Facebook page. I have seen some pictures of her and her husband. I was wondering if you have a way of contacting them," said Kyle. "I responded that I do know them and that they attend the center every day for coffee in the morning and also to eat lunch and participate in activities."

Kyle assumed Cochran was a friend or relative trying to reunite with Marrs. Kyle told Marrs and her husband, Marion, about Cochran and the painting. Neither of them recognized the name or Cochran's picture. After getting permission to share Ella Mae's contact information, Kyle passed it on to Cochran. 

Cochran sent a picture of the painting along with the note on the back. It had Marr's name, date, and that she lived in Greensburg, Kansas. She painted this particular picture in 1992 while married to her late husband, Leon Deckert. They were finally able to talk on the phone, and both Cochran and Marrs were overjoyed. 

"When I spoke to Mrs. Ella Mae she was overwhelmed with joy that she was going to receive her painting back after 29 years," said Cochran. "I fell to pieces after I got off of the phone with her. It was a huge blessing being able to reunite her with her painting."

This reunion between Marrs and this particular painting was extra special because she didn't have any photographs of this painting. She took pictures of nearly all of her work, but for some reason, she didn't have one of this painting. Now, thanks to the kindness and determination of a stranger, a Greensburg artist has one of her own original paintings back after losing track of it nearly 30 years ago. 

Research by art collector led this painting by Ella Mae Marrs in 1992 back to her in Greensburg last week.