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William E. “Bill” Ellis, age 93, passed away on Saturday, Jan 19, 2019, at the Stanley House Assisted Living facility in DeFuniak Springs, Florida. He was born in Mossy Head, Florida, and was a life-long resident of Walton County. He was preceded in death by his parents Joseph and Gertrude Meigs Ellis; his wife Ethellene Daughtry Ellis; and his loving daughter Anita Ellis Gainey. He was also preceded in death by 8 siblings (Brothers: Charles, Meigs, Clayton, Joseph (JJ), and Robert. Sisters: Elizabeth Ellis Kaminski, Helen Ellis Daughtry, and Margaret Ellis Mahon).
Bill attended Walton High School in DeFuniak Springs, Florida. He had a photographic memory and had been promoted twice, ahead of his peers. When he was a senior, the Japanese Imperial Navy bombed Pearl Harbor and initiated America’s formal involvement in World War II. He left Walton High School during Christmas break and received his diploma to enlist in the Navy. He was trained as a tail-gunner for a torpedo bomber, and served aboard the U.S.S. Hornet. He was very humble about his combat exploits and downplayed his involvement, but he was a hero to his family. After the war, Bill returned to Walton County and worked at Eglin as a contract manager for 30 years. Bill was an avid sports fan. He also loved to hunt and fish with his family and friends. He played professional baseball for the Georgia Crackers after his enlistment in the Navy. He spent many years coaching Little League baseball to the youth of Walton County. Many of his players fondly remembered him and often visited him in recent years at the Stanley House. He rounded up friends and proudly attended many Auburn basketball games to watch his nephew’s team compete (Coach Cliff Ellis). He passed time in later years by watching basketball and football on TV. Bill was one of a kind. His sense of humor kept him contented through many adverse situations that would have broken others. He was often heard saying, “If you can’t change the situation, just make the most of it.” He had a big heart and was well known for his generosity and service to others. He was a member of the First Baptist Church, DeFuniak Springs, Florida. He was also a member of the Glendale Masonic Lodge and recently received a pin for 65 years as a Mason. He was a Thirty-Second Degree Mason.
The Bill Ellis family would like to thank the staff at the Stanley House Assisted Living facility for their kindness and support during his stay at his “home away from home” for the last five years; and special gratitude goes to Kindred Home Health and Emerald Coast Hospice staff for their genuine concern and loving care during the last few months of his life.
He is survived by one son, Charles “Chuck” Ellis; two grandchildren: Todd Gainey (Sarah Jane) of Tallahassee, Florida, and Laura Gainey of DeFuniak Springs, Florida. He is also survived by two precious great-grandchildren that he constantly talked about and was so very proud of: Matthew Gainey (attending University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida); and Mason Gainey (attending high school in Tallahassee, Florida). Bill is also survived by numerous nieces and nephews, as well as numerous cousins from the local area and across Georgia and Florida.
Funeral Services will be held Wednesday, January 23, 2019 at 11:00 A.M. in Jerry Evans Chapel. Family will receive friends one hour before services. Masonic Graveside Services will follow in Mossy Head Cemetery.