At the end of a rich life, Wesley Crosby Ellis, age 93, died peacefully on Saturday, August 1, 2020, in his daughter’s home in Vestavia Hills, Alabama. He was surrounded by family with his granddaughter reading cards and letters from well-wishers and his grandson playing the guitar.
In this time of Covid-related restrictions, the family is planning a memorial on October 17, 2020 at St. Dunstan’s Episcopal Church in Auburn, Alabama, if circumstances will allow a gathering.
Wesley was born April 4,1927, in Selma, Alabama to the Rev. Henry Marvin Ellis and Mattie Alice Norman.
He was predeceased by his parents; daughter Margaret (Peggy) Ellis Campbell; sisters, Gay Ellis Smyer, Carolyn Ellis Lipscomb, and Lamar Ellis Sargent Gilson; brothers, Howard Marvin and Norman Leith Ellis; nephews, Henry Marvin, II, and Michael Allen Sargent; nieces, Carole Smyer Jones, Caroline Lipscomb LaTour Hassanpour, and Alleen Sargent Wells Walton.
He was also predeceased by his former wife, Margaret Boland Ellis.
He is survived by his daughter, Leslie Ellis (Buddy) Sharbel; son, John Howard (Julie) Ellis; grandchildren, Margaret Sharbel ; John and Charlie Sharbel; John Hardin and Will Ellis, all of Birmingham, AL, and many very special nieces and nephews.
He moved to Auburn, AL, in 1934, graduated from A.P.I. (now Auburn University) with a B.S.; and from Louisiana State University, with a MMuEd. He began playing the organ at age 14 at Auburn United Methodist Church and continued that advocation throughout life, playing in churches of many different denominations and a synagogue. He served as organist/choirmaster in Mobile, Auburn, Opelika, AL; San Miguel de Allende, Mexico; and Seneca, SC; as well as in three different chapels at Ft. Ord, CA, from 1945-1946.
For the last several years, he has served as full-time organist at Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Opelika, AL.
He was a proud veteran of World War II, serving in the Army Reserves, 1944-1945, and in the U.S. Army, at the end of the war (April 1945-October 1946). He worked for many years at International Paper Company in Mobile. He was a published composer and author. He loved to travel and visited many places around the globe.
His travels brought him many memories, stories, and new friends. He had a lifelong interest in languages and taught Spanish and Russian; he also taught English as a second language in Mexico and the Slovak Republic.
Wesley was both a person of his own time and an apostle from the past. He was congenial and courtly in his manners and had the gift of forming immediate friendships with people of every generation. He was like a psalmist in raising up hymns in his public role as organist and choir director. He was the family historian and had an abiding interest in learning from the past and preserving it.
On one occasion, the Auburn University archives called to ask if he remembered anything about local dairies in the Auburn of his childhood. He provided details on names and locations of the farms, he described the labels on the bottles, and he had an opinion on which among them made the best ice cream.
His voice was a warm and distinctly southern bass. He was a storyteller and listener blessed with a remarkable memory for details until the end of his days. He was above all a kind and dear man who will be greatly missed.
In lieu of flowers the family requests contributions be made to the the Auburn University General Scholarship Fund, Auburn, AL, the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Arts, Auburn, AL, or the charity of your choice.