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.