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09/30/11 - NNHS Newsletter - Nelson Ellis

Nelson Gordon Ellis
(d. 28 Sept 2011)

Newport News High School Class of 1956

Dear Friends and Schoolmates,

   We have yet another sad edition of the NNHS Newsletter this Friday morning.
      Nelson Ellis, star athlete of the Class of 1956, brother of   Don Ellis ('58) of VA,   Barbara Ellis Preece ('62) of VA, and   Chris Ellis ('64) of VA, passed away of renal cell carcinoma in Newport News on Wednesday morning, September 28, 2011, at the age of 73.

  From Frances Heath Scott ('62) of VA - 09/28/11, 4:05 PM - "    Nelson Ellis":

Hi Carol,

I'm certain someone has already contacted you re: the death of Nelson Ellis. If not, however....Nelson passed away this morning at his daughter's home. I didn't send the info earlier because I've been at his mother's home with her and his sister,
  Barbara '62. I sent you info some time ago about Nelson for another Typhoon. If you remember, would you please forward this to him? (I can't recall who had asked you for info.)

Fran Scott

   Oh, Fran, I'm so sorry to hear this news; thank you so much for letting me know. You have my sincerest condolences on the loss of your friend.  

   I hope I've forwarded your note to all the correct people...

    From Joe Madagan ('57) of FL - 09/28/11, 6:25 PM - "    Nelson Ellis, Class of 1956":

Hi, Carol:
A message from 
    Bill Roady ('60) of VA:

  Horace Underwood ('61 - of VA) just called with the news of Nelson Ellis's passing early this morning. A bright light in Peninsula Board 125 of basketball officials has gone out.


Joe Madagan

   Thank you so much, Joe - and Bill and Horace. You all have my deepest sympathies on the loss of your friend.

  From Joe Drewry ('58) of VA - 09/28/11, 9:17 PM:

Thank you for letting me know, Carol.
I have several NNHS alums that I promised I would keep informed of Nelson's condition.  Sad but expected.

   Certainly, Joe - my condolences on the loss of your schoolmate.

  From Brenda Hudson Ramsey ('64) of VA to          Dave Spriggs ('64) of VA - 09/28/11, 10:46 PM:

Just received word that     Nelson Ellis passed away today. His brother is   Chris Ellis.


   Thank you, David - and Brenda.

  From Joe Drewry ('58) of VA to Members of the Class 0f 1958 (and others) - 09/29/11, 7:47 AM - "    Nelson Ellis, NNHS 1956, passed away Wednesday morning, 9/28/2011":

Nelson passed away at his daughter's home. The arrangements are still in the process of being put together and an obituary is being prepared.  Tentative plans to celebrate Nelson's life include:  Visitation - Sunday evening at 7:00 PM at Peninsula Funeral Home - - - the service will be on Monday morning at 11:00 - Northside Church of Christ on Rt 17.
Nelson's family and friends who have been so supportive through his illness know that he is in a better place, even though, his presence is already being missed by all who were close to him
Many of our NNHS1958 class were close to Nelson.  His brother Donald is our classmate and both were starters on State Champion Basketball teams that are such a memorable part of our legacy.
A quick review of some of Nelson's connections with our NNHS58 basketball memories:
1954 NNHS JV Basketball Team:  Coach J. C. “Cowboy” Range
  • Nelson Ellis played on the JV team.
  • NNHS58 players on 1954 JV team: Bucky Keller, Kenny Roberts, Tommy Morgan.

1955 NNHS Varsity Basketball Team:   Coach Bill Chambers' 1st year.

  • There were no returning varsity players that year.
  • The team finished the regular season 16-4 and lost in the semi-finals of the State Tournament.
  • Nelson Ellis played forward on the 1955 varsity.
  • Bucky Keller started at forward and was the only NNHS58 player on varsity that year.
  • NNHS58 players on the JV team in 1955: Kenny Roberts, Jack Tesh, Don Hardy.

1956 NNHS Varsity Basketball Team

  • In his 2nd year as coach, Bill Chambers took his “Whiz Kids” all the way to the State Championship with a 25-1 record (54-77 loss to Wilson in regular season).
  • Nelson Ellis was a starting guard on that team.
  • Bucky Keller was a starting forward.
  • Other NNHS 1958 varsity players: Kenny Roberts, Jack Tesh and Billy Bradley.
  • NNHS58 classmates on the 1956 JV team: Jerry Phillips, Jimmy Van Noy, Virgil Meares, Donald Parker, Donald Hardy, Roger Heflin, Donald Ellis, Allen Foster.
Nelson's continued contributions to basketball officiating have been chronicled in recent Daily Press articles in links below:
May you, as you continue the journey, find your days filled with happiness and fun...

   Thank you so much for compiling this valuable record, Joe.

From the Daily Press - 09/30/11:

              Nelson G. Ellis



NEWPORT NEWS - Nelson Gordon Ellis, 73, passed away Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2011.

He was born in Norfolk and had been a lifelong resident of Newport News. Nelson graduated from Newport News High School in 1956. While there, he was very active in sports, playing both baseball and basketball. He was a member of the 1956 state championship basketball team, and was known by his close basketball buddies as 'Moocha.'

Nelson attended Randolph Macon College after which he began a career in financial services in the retail division of First & Merchants National Bank. In 1965 he was recruited by Newport News Savings & Loan and opened their first branch office. He later established the mortgage lending division. After 25 years at Newport News Savings, Nelson joined the mortgage division of Signet Bank. Nelson retired from the mortgage division of C & F in 2006.


Nelson Ellis



Nelson remained active in sports during his banking career. He began officiating local basketball games in 1962, advancing on to be a distinguished Division I College Basketball Official for 15 years. In 1981 Nelson was elected commissioner of the local Peninsula Board #125 of basketball officials, serving in that capacity until his retirement in March 2011. He also worked with the Peninsula Softball Umpires Association for 20 years.

Survivors include one daughter, Tricia O'Grady and her husband, Brian; his mother, Thelma Ellis; one sister, Barbara Preece; two brothers, Donald and Chris Ellis; two grandchildren, Lisa and Joshua.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to Northside Christian Church 1300 Geo. Washington Mem. Hwy., Yorktown, VA 23693.

The family will receive friends Sunday, Oct. 2, 2011, from 4 to 6 p.m. at Peninsula Funeral Home. Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. on Monday, Oct. 3, 2011, at Northside Christian Church followed by burial in Peninsula Memorial Park.

Peninsula Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements. View and post condolences on our online guestbook at

Published in the Daily Press from September 30 to October 1, 2011.
Visit Guest Book


September 30, 2011
I'm so sorry to hear of Nelson's passing. I remember when I was younger and still playing a lot of softball, Nelson and Don were two of the best umpires out there. My thoughts are with the family during this time.

September 30, 2011  
Nelson will be greatly missed by everyone who has ever come into contact with him. Basketball Officials on the Peninsula was his passion. May he rest in peace.

~ Armand (Buzzy) Blanchard


September 30, 2011
My memories of Mr. Ellis will always be of our fireworks in the driveway and the cookouts our families shared. He would always wave on his way out, and his words of encouragement will never be forgotten. My prayers are with your family now for you are with the Father.

September 30, 2011
To the Ellis Family, I am so sorry to hear of the passing of Nelson Ellis. My prayers go out to you and your family. May God bring you peace and comfort during this difficult time.

September 30, 2011

September 30, 2011  
To Mrs. Ellis, Donald, Chris, Barbara and Trici,
We want to tell you how nice Nelson was. We went to NNHS together. I would see him often at the health club and knew how proud he was of his family and grandchildren. He was a good person to talk with and we had a lot of nice chats. Much love from Mickey and Carol Marcella

~ Mickey and Carol Marcella

September 30, 2011

I will always remember Mr. Ellis with fondness and appreciation. I think of him often and always smile as I remember his cunning remarks whenever I would ask him a question related to a game situation. He will be missed by me and fellow officials in many ways. May God Bless his family and yours. ( Basketball official).

~ Robert Calloway, Williamsburg, Virginia

September 30, 2011

My sincere condolences to the Ellis family. I was a member of Peninsula Board 125 in the 1990s, and always had great respect for Nelson and his commitment to our officiating community. May God bring you comfort and peace. God Bless.

~ Lee McGuire, Cibolo, Texas

September 30, 2011

To the Ellis Family, Deeply saddened to hear of Nelson's passing. He was a life long friend and will be missed by many.

~ Jerry Londeree, The Villages, Florida

September 30, 2011
To the Ellis Family, I am sorry to hear of Nelson's passing. To God be the Glory for the things he has allowed Nelson to have done and the lives that he has touched as he has walked this side and now he has crossed to his heavenly home where he has found peace from the sufferings of his illness. May God bless and keep you all doing your bereavement.

~ Basketball official, Walter Hamlin & Family
October 01, 2011
To the entire Ellis family: Our sincere condolences to each of you. Everyone who knew Nelson really appreciated him. He was always kind and friendly. I work part-time for Peninsula Funeral Home and will be working there for the visitation. I will work the funeral as a volunteer for our church, Northside Christian. We are all saddened by his passing; however, he is in a better place with no suffering.
God bless each of you, Fred and Patty Andrews Mays (N.N.H.S., '60 & '61)

October 01, 2011
To the family and friends of Nelson Ellis: We are sorry to hear of Nelson's passing. May God comfort you during this difficult time.
October 01, 2011
My thought and prayers are extended to the family and friends of Nelson Ellis. He will be remembered by many as a fine man with a true love for athletics and the people who play the games we all love. God Bless Nelson and others like him.
October 01, 2011
By far the most compassionate and professional commissioner I've ever worked for. Nelson was in the business of working with and helping people. He was so welcoming when I moved to the Peninsula and made me feel right at home in my new association. I last spoke to Nelson a few months back and of course even retired, he was more then willing to help me. I feel honored to have worked for such a special person. To his family, thank you so much for sharing Nelson with us (the Officiating & Sports Community) for so many years and my thoughts and prayers are with you always.
October 01, 2011
My thoughts and prayers are with Nelson's family. He will truly be missed by all the people who's lives he has touched. He has given many people the opportunity to succeed during the past 30 years that he served as basketball commissioner. Thanks Nelson for being my mentor during those years.
October 01, 2011
To Nelson's family, Please accept my sincere sympathy and God's blessings. I am in Tennessee visiting family and found out about Nelson on-line. Nelson and my husband, Ray, were friends growing up in Newport News. Ray died in 1996 so I'm thinking they are enjoying each other's company once again! My thoughts and prayers are with you.

Although we can't be with you while you remember your loved one, you're in our thoughts from afar.

~ Ross and Joyce Grenz, Vero Beach, Florida

October 01, 2011

To the Ellis family my prayers are with you in this time of sorrow, Nelson will be missed greatly.

~ Adrian Sutton, Newport News, Virginia

October 01, 2011

To the Ellis Family,
We were saddened to hear of Nelson's passing. We pray that God will strength you and fill your heart with peace as only He can during this time.

~ Lenard Whitfield, Hampton, Virginia

October 01, 2011

So sorry to hear about Nelson. We grew up together in East End and played sports together as kids, then double-dated as teenagers. He was a great friend and will be missed. My thoughts and prayers are with his family.

~ Frank Moore, The Villages, Florida

October 02, 2011

Grief can be so hard, but our special memories help us cope. Remembering you and your loved one today and always.

~ Bobby Walker, Lynchburg, Virginia

October 02, 2011

Chris and family,

You are in our thoughts and prayers.

~ Nancy & Louis Burks, Richmond, Virginia


October 02, 2011

To the entire Ellis Family, My condolences.
I will always remember Nelson as a friend, classmate, & for his always present smile. He will be missed greatly by anyone who ever met him. Rest in peace, my friend.

~ Bruce Sims, Gloucester, Virginia

October 02, 2011
Nelson was a very gentle and compassionate man who affected more lives than he probably knew. He will be remembered as a leader and regarded with the highest respect for many years to come. Rest easy, Nelson, and thank you.

October 03, 2011

Nelson will be greatly missed. This community has lost a great man, his hard work and dedication to high school basketball touched so many lives. My thoughts and prayers are with the Ellis family.

~ Mark Frye, Yorktown, Virginia

October 03, 2011

Donald and Chris,
I was sorry to hear about the passing of Nelson. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

October 04, 2011

Ellis Family,
So sorry to hear about Nelson passing-he was a wonderful co-worker and friend-so sorry I was out of town-My thoughts and prayers are with you during this difficult time-I will never forget what a wonderful person he was and his smile.

~ Bobby and Sandy Faison, Newport News, Virginia

October 05, 2011

I was deeply saddened to learn of Mr. Ellis's death and I would like to express to you my sincere sadness and sympathies to you and your family at this difficult time on behalf of the Braithwaite family. Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family at this time. With Sincere Sympathy. Michael

October 05, 2011

I was so sorry to hear about Nelson. I was out of town. I remember all the times when I was at Mrs. Ellis's house in Stuart Gardens. My prayers are with all of you.

ber 05, 2011

  Our deepest sympathies are extended to the entire Ellis family and their many friends at this difficult time.

   This information is also posted here:


  Y'all take good care of each other!  TYPHOONS FOREVER! We'll Always Have Buckroe!

                          Love to all, Carol





Carol Buckley Harty
7020 Lure Court
Fayetteville, NC 28311-9309

 Onward Christian Soldiers

Words by Sabine Baring Gould in Church Times, 1865

Music (St. Gertrude) by Arthur S. Sullivan, 1871

Onward Christian soldiers,
Marching as to war,
With the cross of Jesus
Going on before!
Christ, the royal Master,
Leads against the foe;
Forward into battle,
See His banner go!

Onward, Christian soldiers,
Marching as to war,
With the cross of Jesus
Going on before!

2. At the sign of triumph
Satan's host doth flee;
On, then, Christian soldiers,
On to victory!
Hell's foundation quiver
At the shout of praise;
Brothers, lift your voices,
Loud your anthems raise!

3. Like a mighty army
Moves the church of God;
Brothers, we are treading
Where the saints have trod;
We are not divided;
All one body we
One in hope and doctrine,
One in charity.

4. Onward, then, ye people,
Join our happy throng,
Blend with ours your voices
In the triumph song;
Glory, laud, and Honor,
Unto Christ the King;
This thro' countless ages
Men and angels sing.

"Onward Christian Soldiers" midi and lyrics courtesy of - 04/16/07

Greg Olsen Paintings courtesy of – 01/27/05

Blackwork Flowers Divider Line clip art courtesy of - 08/12/04

Marine Corps Seal clip art courtesy of the late Herbert Hice of MI - one of my Famous Marines who served in the South Pacific during WWII.
Thanks again, Herbie!!

Army Seal clip art courtesy of Al Farber ('64) of GA - 05/24/06 (still missing...)
Thanks, Al!
Replaced by Norm Covert ('61) of MD - 02/09/09
Thanks, Norm!

Navy Seal clip art courtesy of - 05/29/06

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