ZEPHYRHILLS, Fla. – Jerry Ellis was born on Dec. 5, 1941 in Farmington, Maine. He died May 9, 2022 in Wesley Chapel, Florida with Ronnie, his beloved wife of 45 years by his side.
He faced various challenges in his childhood which led him in his adolescence to running which became a passion and refuge.
An accomplished athlete at both Phillips High School and the University of Maine, he won various competitions at the state and New England level in cross country and track. His love of athletics continued throughout his life culminating in riding his road bike from the Pacific to the Atlantic Ocean and from Canada to Mexico (the latter with his youngest son, Lucas, daughter-in-law, Amy, and wife, Ronnie). In addition to biking, Jerry completed three marathons including qualifying and running the Boston Marathon. His brotherhood in Phi ETA Kappa brought lifelong friendships as did his involvement in the University of Maine M Club. Jerry was inducted into the University of Maine’s Sports Hall of Fame in 2019.
As a young man he walked in protest for civil rights in Selma, Alabama (1965) and later served in Vietnam vowing to serve his country but in his own way in peaceful service. He was awarded two Bronze Stars for meritorious service while serving as a US Army Captain. His service was as an American advisor to a South Vietnamese unit during its Hearts and Minds campaign.
He found his vocation in counseling and eventually returned home to Maine. By this time he had completed his under-graduate degree at UMaine, a Master in Divinity at Boston University and a Master’s degree from the University of Oregon in Counseling. Professionally he worked at UMaine in the Onward Program dedicating his time, energy and love to helping non-traditional students get a college education. Many will remember him for his unwavering kindness and compassion for his students and coworkers.
He embodied servant leadership being selected to run Onward as Director at UMaine but was also recognized in New England when he was selected to preside over NEAOPP (an organization focused on support for non-traditional and first generation students). His compassion and leadership will be remembered by many through different aspects of his career but remembered by his son, Nick, during the annual Onward orientation for leaving no one behind during the annual hike of Mount Katahdin. He guided many through treacherous terrain getting them home safely late into the night.
Other favorite pastimes in his life included gardening (master gardening credentialed), reading, traveling, meditation, working with Habitat for Humanity and helping with construction of the Orono Bog Boardwalk. Throughout his life, Jerry gave a helping hand to many people during their most difficult times always with kind, patient, loving support.
If athletics was his refuge and service his profession, his family was his greatest love. He leaves behind his wife, Ronnie (Delano-Ellis), daughter Christine Ann Ellis McLaughlin (mother: Ann Perkins Ellis), two sons Nicolas Gerald Ellis and his wife Angie of Lima, Peru and Lucas Delano Ellis and his wife Amy of Corvallis, Oregon and grandchildren, Maeve Christine McLaughlin, Patrick Matthew McLaughlin, Tomas Santiago Ellis, Benjamin Lester Ellis, Brianna Delano Ellis and little Luca Joaquin Ellis. Jerry is also survived by brother Fred E. Rolfe, Jr. and his wife Noralyn of Bradford, Maine, sister-in-law, Renee Rae Delano of Orrington, Maine, sister-in-law Lauralee Ellis of Nashua, NH, brother-in-law David Morgan of Phillips, Maine and aunt Greta Pratt of Weld, Maine. There are several nieces and nephews who he loved dearly and followed their lives with passion.
Jerry was predeceased by five younger siblings, Rex Scott Ellis, Lynn “Butch” Ellis, Anita Chase Dunham, Nancy Lee Ellis Morgan and Elizabeth “Snip” Rolfe.
Over the years he had numerous riding buddies who biked hard and long. He respected these riders and will be missed by his Florida riding mate of over 10 years, Alan Gosley (wife Karen) of Cow Bay, Nova Scotia.
Adored by many, one student in particular started a scholarship in his name, the Jerry Ellis Scholarship Fund. In life he supported this fund and in his passing his family asks you to consider support of this scholarship so that the spirit of Jerry will live on helping students on their path at UMaine. Gifts may be made to the University of Maine Foundation, Two Alumni Place, Orono, Maine 04469-5792 or online at umainefoundation.org/memorial for the Jerry Ellis Scholarship.
His family welcomes others to join them in a celebration of his life on Sunday, June 26, 2022 at 101 East Broadway, Bangor, Maine at 2 pm.
To the extended Rolfe/Ellis family… I’m so sorry to see this in the paper.
Jerry was always known as “the good guy”.
One of the best athletes from the state of Maine, ever. All of kids admired him when he ran for Phillips High School.
I was sad to hear of Jerry’s passing from Zach yesterday. He was a special adult in Zachary’s life albeit through Nick as childhood “buds”. There is no doubt that Jerry knew how to use his gifts to reach many first generation college students and to touch so many others in the community. I am blessed to have known Jerry over many years and wish his family peace during this difficult time. Peg Capehart and Family
Jerry was such a powerful and important role model at the beginning of my student advocacy career. I learner from Jerry that a man can show any and all emotions in comfort once we become comfortable with ourselves and that comfort is the greatest gift we can give our students. I will forever be grateful for his guidance and patience and am so thankful to have had the time with Jerry that I did. Peace and love to you Jerry, we’ll all be together again. – Rusty Brown
I am a better person from knowing and working with Jerry. What a remarkable person! I am blessed to be working for a TRIO program, like Jerry. My thoughts and deepest condolences go out to his entire family.
As a colleague of Jerry’s in the UMO Onward Program, I can attest to his skill and sincere commitment to guiding and encouraging students. Jerry was a very ethical and caring man. Joanne Boynton
Jerry was one of the kindness souls I’ve ever learned from. He was so committed to ONWARD and the students. He had a way to make what looked impossible, possible. My years as a student and peer advisor at ONWARD with Jerry contributed so much to encourage me to be more than I ever thought I could be and I will be forever grateful. The world has lost a beautiful man. I pray that family and friends can morn him and heal by remembering his love for life lives in your heart always. Julie DS Reed
I am saddened to hear of Jerry’s passing. As his Phi Eta Kappa brother at UMaine, I looked up to him as a great athlete and a kind person. While we lost touch with each other after graduation, I am not surprised to read of the tremendous impact that he had on others in his life. I am sure he will be missed. My deepest sympathy goes out to his family and friends. Bill Riviere, ’65 & ’67, Guilford CT
Sad to loose one of us “Band of Runners”
May he Rest In Peace.
UMaine track teammate
Baron B Hicken ‘63