Leslie Ellis

Obituary of Leslie Ellis

Leslie Stewart Ellis of Abilene, a long time Abilene banker and civic leader, beloved father, friend, and a member of the “Greatest Generation”, passed away Saturday, February 17,2018, at the age of 94.  He went to be with his Lord and his own “guardian angel” Lois.

The family will have a visitation from 5:00 to 7:00pm, Friday, February 23 at The Hamil Family Funeral Home, 6449 Buffalo Gap Road, Abilene.  Please join us in celebrating his life, Saturday, February 24 at 10:00am at First Baptist Church Chapel with Dr. Philip Christopher officiating.  Entombment at Elmwood Memorial Park will immediately follow the service.

He blessed us with his laughter and his way of making every day seem special and memorable because of his unique ability to see the extraordinary all around us.  He served as an inspiration to his family, a model of Christian charity, kindness, and compassion, giving to and doing for others before thinking of self.

Leslie was born in New Florence, Missouri, March 26, 1923, the third son in a family of 9, to Luther Dennis Ellis and Beulah Ella Bryant Ellis. His family were share-croppers, and he and his Dad took care of all the farming.  During the late summer and winter months, his Father worked for the WPA, so he was responsible for all the livestock on the farm.  He attended the Sunbeam Elementary School, a one room school house, where he attended 1st-8th grade.  Starting in the 6th grade, he had to be there early every morning in the winter, to prepare the stove to heat the room.  He graduated from Montgomery City High School in 1941.

He enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1943, and graduated from infantry officers candidate school in 1944, where he was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in U.S. Army Company C, 17th Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division (Hour Glass Division).  After his commission in February he returned to Tyler, Texas where a young lady was waiting for his arrival, and on December 23, 1944, he and Lois Pearl Sword were married, and remained so for 64 years, until her passing in 2008. 

He served in the Asiatic Pacific Campaign – Leyte, the Philippines, and the Okinawa Invasion on April 1, 1945.  After this campaign, he was promoted to 1st Lieutenant and awarded the Bronze Star, 2 Purple Hearts, with Oak Leaf Clusters, the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with 2 Bronze Stars and 1 Bronze Arrowhead, the American Theater Campaign Medal, and the Victory Medal.

He was discharged from the service in 1946, and after graduating from the Federal Institute Business College in Tyler, Texas, he began his banking career in 1947, working for Tyler Bank & Trust.  In 1951, he went to work for the First State Bank of Hawkins, Texas, and in 1956 the entire family moved to Abilene, where he accepted the position of Senior Vice-President of First State Bank. He was also the Controller Secretary to the Board of Directors for many years. He continued his banking education, getting his MBA from Rutgers University.  He became President of First State Bank of Wylie in 1982; a position he held until his retirement in 1988.  He and mother then started on an adventure with their motor home, visiting most of the United States and Canada. 

In addition to being a faithful member of First Baptist Church for over 60 years, he served as a Deacon, Sunday School Department Leader, as well as on numerous committees including Stewardship, Finance and Budget, and Personnel.  He also taught the pre-school Sunday School classes for 19 years and was a member of the Choir for 47 years.

He volunteered at both Abilene Regional Hospital and Hendrick Hospital for over 24 years, as well as being the first male volunteer at Hendrick Hospital. He was actively involved in many diverse local and state organizations, where he often assumed leadership positions and was recognized with numerous awards throughout the years. He was President of the Elmwood West Lions Club and Southwest Rotary Club, where he was a recipient of the Rotary International Paul Harris Fellow, Outstanding Service Award, and Polio Plus.  He worked with the Muscular Dystrophy Association; Junior Achievement; the United Way of Abilene, holding various offices and serving 31 years as a volunteer; the Abilene Boys Club; Ben Richey Boys Ranch Board of Directors and the Abilene Youth Center.  He was a member of the Texas Small Business Advisory Council; Abilene Building Standards Board and the Seniors Advisory Board; served on the Abilene Chamber of Commerce Education Committee; Chairman of the Volunteer Services Council of the Abilene State School; Abilene Council on Alcohol & Drug Abuse; Family Outreach and RSVP.  He also was involved with the YMCA, City Lights Ministry, Wylie Chapter FFA,  Abilene Council on Alcohol & Drug Abuse, Day Nursery of Abilene, City of Abilene Service Advisory, Hobah Masonic Lodge, AFAM  #1394; Scottish Rite Hospital, Dallas, the 17th Infantry Regiment Division Association; Abilene Youth Center; Ben Richey Boys Ranch; Abilene Chapter A.I.B.; Cystic Fibrosis, Bank Clearing House; Junior Achievement; Family Outreach; RSVP, Rotary International; and the Eager Beaver Good Sam’s Chapter, and many more that we are probably not aware of.

He is survived by his daughter, Pamela and husband George Deffenbaugh, Abilene, and son, Larry Ellis, of Whitehouse, Texas.  He has 4 grandchildren; Melissa Ellis, of Tyler, Bridgett Lack (Eddie) of Flippin, Arkansas, Marc Deffenbaugh (Emily) of Abilene, and Stephen Ellis (Kelli) of Whitehouse.  He has 9 great-grandchildren; Jordan Ellis, Toni Lack, Jarrod Lack, Hannah Marie Ellis Deffenbaugh, Madyson Kay Deffenbaugh, Jacob Stephen Deffenbaugh, McKenzie Jean Ellis, Taylor Idora Ellis, and Jessica Marie Ellis.  He is also survived by 1 sister, Zelma McKenzie (Robert) of Dallas, and brothers-in-laws, Troyce Sword and family, and Winnon Sword and family of Tyler as well as numerous nieces and nephews.

Leslie was preceded in death by his “Guardian Angel” Lois, his parents, 2 brothers, and 5 sisters.

Serving as Pallbearers will be George Deffenbaugh, Marc Deffenbaugh, Stephen Sword, Michael Sword, Stephen Ellis, and Jordan Ellis.

The family would like to thank Lyndale  (Royal Estates), Joe Frush, Stacy, and the staff and nurses for bringing joy and fellowship to Daddy while he lived there;  Dr. Thomas  and Theresa Headstream, for taking such good care of Mother and Daddy for so many years,  and to Dr. George Dawson, who took care of Daddy in his bout with Dementia, as well as Susan, Eva, Bernice, and his many caregivers, pastors, and volunteers from Hospice of the Big Country, as well as the nurses and staff at Wisteria Place, Legacy Lane, who were so giving and provided the necessary care and comfort for Daddy. There have never been a more caring and loving group of people.  We would also like to thank his many friends and family for sending him little notes and cards. They always made his heart smile.        

Memorials may be made in honor of Leslie Ellis to: First Baptist Church “Glo” Daycare Center, 1333 No. 3rd Street, Abilene, 79601; Day Nursery of Abilene, 702 Cedar, Abilene, 79601; Hospice of the Big Country, 4601 Hartford, Abilene, Tx. 79605; or your favorite charity.