Tommie D. Ellis was born May 19, 1929 in Madill, Texas, and died Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2012, in Duncan.
He was the oldest son of Ivey Lee and Josephine Mantooth Ellis. He grew up and attended school in West Texas, graduating from Crosbyton High School in 1946.
Funeral will be at 2 p.m. Saturday at Chisholm Trail Church of Christ.
Tommie joined the United States Army in 1946. He trained as a radio intercept officer and military policeman and served in Virginia, Ft. Riley in Kansas, and the island of Guam in the Pacific. He spent 18 months of his army service on Guam in the years immediately following World War II. He proudly stated that he served 2 years, 11 months, 19 days, 17 hours and 32 minutes in the Army, being honorably discharged in 1949.
He married Betty Jones on March 18, 1950, in Crosbyton, Texas and they shared more than 60 years of a happy marriage and family together. After getting married he attended Abilene Christian College for two years, studying the Bible and theology.
He began his career as a photographer for the Abilene Reporter News and then he moved to work for the Pampa Daily News beginning in 1953. His growing family moved to Duncan, in 1956 and he began his work as a photographer and sports editor for The Duncan Banner. Tommie worked there until 1974.
Known affectionately to all who knew him as, “Poppie,” it seemed he could fix anything. He was always working on cars, mowers and every other kind of appliance, equipment or tool. He overhauled an engine more than once for old cars driven by his kids or his grandkids. That mechanical interest and talent is what allowed him to be successful as a technical writer for Halliburton Services, retiring in 1991, after 17 years.
Never rich in terms of material possessions, he was rich beyond measure in terms of things that money can’t buy. His sphere of influence was far reaching and can never be fully known.
Tommie passed on the things that he loved to those around him. Tommie had an eye for photography. One of his photos that was picked up by the Associated Press and appeared in newspapers literally all over the world. The multitude of pictures he took of his family, friends, and church through the years documents a blessed life and now his kids and grandkids appear to have an eye for photography that originated with him.
For others in his sphere, it was his love of the soil and nature. He achieved the status of “Master Gardener.” Poppies’ garden, which he worked for most of his adult life, shared good things to eat, not only with his family, but with neighbors, friends, and church members. It was the norm for a dinner at the Ellis home to be mostly freshly picked foods grown by Poppie. He loved his bees, the flowers and the watching the birds from his back porch. We love the soil and the land because he did.
For still others, it was his intense curiosity about the world and his love of books, reading and the written word. He was at heart, a writer. For him, words had the power to inspire and influence. He used them for good, especially when it came to writing about young people.
After his retirement, Poppie spent years volunteering at Woodrow Wilson Elementary helping children who were struggling to read. In addition, he taught more than 30 adults who could not read that invaluable skill. Those lives will be changed forever.
He influenced us because of his love of sports. Not only did he write about area high school sports. He played sports. He coached many teams. Through his coaching he blessed the lives of countless children and adolescents. He coached Peewee football, youth basketball, wrestling and track.
At one point, Coach Ellis’ team won eight Duncan city track championships in a row. He loved to play softball, golf and, of course, loved watching any University of Texas team, although he did give birth to several OU fans, which he never quite understood. During a period of 1956 to 1996 he attended all but one Duncan High School football game, both home and away, and attended and filmed the games for many years after he left his job as a sports editor. In a string of 444 Duncan High School football games, both home and away, he attended 443. If you played football for Duncan High School, Tommie Ellis watched you play. He always believed the best about kids, not only his own, but also in others that he wrote about and watched, and that confidence that he showed gave us confidence in ourselves, no matter what our endeavor. He is a member of the Duncan Sports Hall of Fame.
For many others, he showed us what it meant to it love God, the scriptures, and the church. He served as an elder and a deacon in local Churches of Christ for more than 25 years. He served as a teacher for youth and adult classes and for church Bible Bowl teams. He hoped that some of those young men would become ministers. Although one of his early career ambitions was to become a minister, that was never to be. However, two of those young men he influenced have served as full time ministers for 50 total years of service to the church. For those of us who heard him pray publicly, we’ll miss his voice and his words as he led in worship.
A Texan by birth and at heart, he spent the majority of his adult life in Duncan. Although he had opportunities to go work for more prestigious newspapers, covering professional and college sports, making more money and becoming well known, he chose instead to make Duncan his home. He loved Duncan, and Duncan loved him.
He loved people. Rarely did he meet a stranger, and if he did, it wasn’t long before they were no longer strangers but friends. It wasn’t unusual for him to stick out his right hand and say “Hi, I’m Tom Ellis, don’t I know you?”
He loved to hear his children sing together and thought that there was no more beautiful sound on earth than that.
He was preceded in death by his parents and two brothers, Bobby and James Ellis, and a sister, JoAnn Kennedy.
He is survived by his wife, Betty; three daughters, Diane Keener, Darla Bowers, and Debbie and Rick Turner’ two sons and their spouses, David and Kim Ellis, and Richard and Denise Ellis. He dearly loved his grandchildren, Krista Keener, Heather and Leslee Turner, Blain and Evan Bowers, Kami Yakso, and Aaron and Jared Ellis. He is also survived by five great grandchildren, Noah, Cohen and Harper Ellis, Aton Bowers, and Emsley Yasko; several in-laws, Buddy and Barbara Jones, L. C. and Nellie Jones, Dean and Faye Jones, and Jerry and Babs Jones, all of Texas, and Barbara Ellis of Duncan; also a host of nieces and nephews and many longtime friends of all ages.
When thinking about the inevitability of his passing during his last days, he said this to Mum: “While I’m not anxious to leave you and the family, I am anxious to collect on the more than 300 promises that God made to those who believe in him. Those promises are no longer promises he believed in, they are promises fulfilled.
“Why do you seek the living with the dead? He is not here. He is risen. Just as he said.” While that was said of Jesus in the gospels, it is true of Poppie as well. He saw God, and today he is probably standing next to Peter at the gates of Heaven, welcoming souls as they enter. And no doubt, he’ll stick out a firm handshake and those folks will hear that deep voice say, “Hi, I’m Tom Ellis, do I know you?”
In lieu of flowers, the family requests any donations honoring Tommie to be made to the building fund at the Chisholm Trail Church of Christ or Chisholm Trail Hospice.
May 19, 1929 — Oct. 31, 2012
Tommie D. Ellis was born May 19, 1929 in Madill, Texas, and died Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2012, in Duncan.
- Local News
Duncan students set on inclement weather time
So far, Duncan students won’t have to make up any school days missed because of inclement weather.
For several years, the Duncan School District has based its calendar on an hourly schedule instead of a set number of days. This means the school district has to have 1,080 hours of instructional time, as opposed to make sure students are in class 175 days each school year.
“We go more than 1,080 hours,” Labyer said. “As long as we have 1,080 hours, the schools don’t have to make those days up.”
Duncan area Realtors honored at luncheon
Duncan Association of Realtors celebrated those who have made 2013 Christmas Luncheon, including a father and son duo.
Grant Perkins had the pleasure of passing the presidential gavel to his father Keith Perkins this year. Both men also received prestigious awards during the annual event Wednesday afternoon at First Christian Church.
Grant was named the 2013 Realtor of the Year. A Duncan native, Grant is the third generation of Perkins to work for Perkins Insurance and Realty.
Velma’s holiday activities rescheduled
When a winter storm blew in last week it caused several area events to be canceled and rescheduled, including Velma’s Christmas Parade.
After City of Velma officials met Tuesday, they decided to reschedule most of the town’s holiday activities. The Christmas Parade will be at 11 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 21 on Main Street, with lineup beginning at 10 a.m. at the east of town near the E&S Feed Store.
DMS to establish sixth-grade athletics program
In an effort to instill more school spirit in its sixth-graders, Duncan Middle School is working to establish a sixth-grade athletics program.
During Tuesday’s regular meeting of the Duncan Board of Education, Rodney Calhoun, Duncan Public Schools assistant superintendent, talked to board members about the program and the goals associated with sixth-grade athletics. Calhoun said the biggest expense schools accrue while establishing a sixth-grade program is the cost of equipment. He said the Duncan Middle School has plenty of excess equipment to be used for the sixth-grade program.
“Last week, Ponca City launched a sixth-grade program,” Calhoun said. “They spent $200,000 on equipment.”
Deadline Friday for Santa letters
The deadline for getting letters in Santa’s Mailbox, a partnership between the Jolly ‘ol Man and The Duncan Banner, is 5 p.m. Friday.
Saturday to offer plenty of holiday celebrations
If you are still recovering from cabin fever, Saturday is the perfect cure with several events to keep your family busy all day long.
Starting the day off right is Boy Scout Troop 4434’s annual Pancake Breakfast from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church. Freshly made pancakes, bacon, sausage and refreshments are all part of what a ticket will get you at this tasty event.
City tackles winter weather
Throughout the recent cold front and accompanying precipitation, the City of Duncan has worked to make streets driveable and to repair leaking water mains.
Scott Vaughn, Duncan Public Works director, said Street and Water departments have been busy throughout the city as a result of colder temperatures, and recent snowfall and freezing rain.
School board discusses DHS safe room project
Duncan Public Schools is considering a bond issue for as early as 2014, to construct a safe room/ art building on the Duncan High School campus.
During Tuesday’s regular meeting, members of the Duncan Board of Education approved hiring PBK Architect for design and development, and CMS Willowbrook as construction manager for the project, pending passage of a bond issue next year.
Reception honors Hospice patients
More than 100 spots on the Tree of Remembrance had been purchased by Tuesday night, when the annual reception for the fundraiser was held.
Proceeds go to help pay for care terminal patients and their families receive from Chisholm Trail Hospice.
Daddy Daughter Dance set for Friday
There are only a few days left to purchase tickets for the 3rd annual Daddy Daughter Dance.
Tickets are limited to only 100 couples and 25 additional daughters to avoid overcrowding for the event, which is sponsored by the Simmons Center. The dance is from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Friday at the Simmons Center.
“We’ve sold 75 couples and 16 additional daughters,” said Stephanie Sullivan, event coordinator, on Tuesday morning.
- More Local News Headlines
- Duncan students set on inclement weather time