MOUNT CHASE - Al Ellis, 74, died February 2, 2016 in Patten surrounded with the love of family and friends. Albert was born June 9, 1941 in Houlton, the son of Ralph Fletcher Ellis and Alice Elizabeth (McCoombs), formerly of Miramichi, New Brunswick.
After graduating from Houlton High School in 1959, Al attended the University of Maine in Orono, earning a BA degree in History & Government, 1963, and a Masters of Education, 1964. While there, he married his wife, Louise "Lou" Clark. Al spent his first 20 working years in education, with 13 of those years in Vermont: as a history teacher and guidance counselor in Springfield, assistant principal of North Country Union High School in Newport, and as principal and assistant superintendent in Burlington. Russ Heath, John Barker, and soul-brother, Dick Happy were his educational gurus and friends in Vermont. Moving to Mt. Chase, Maine in 1977 as superintendent of schools for SAD#25, Al, teamed up with Katahdin High School principal, Loren Ritchie, for an additional 7 years of educational fun! He had a lifetime respect for the many talented and devoted teachers of this community. At the age of 42, Al and his wife had an opportunity to realize his dream of many years, owning his own business. Thanks to Katahdin Trust Co, and a small initial loan from his father, who confided to his brother, Don, "that's the last I'll ever see of that money!" Ellis Family IGA became a reality in 1983, a place where "the cans don't talk back." Needing a good store manager, and not wanting to ever compete with him as a future retailer, Al adopted his "fourth son," David Cunha, early on, enabling them both to realize their retail dreams. Al received a great deal of satisfaction in David's many achievements. Always able to see the forest along with the individual trees, Al's foresight and planning enabled Patten to undergo "rural renewal" with the building of a new grocery store in 1988 and the renovations that ensued. In December of that same year, Al was diagnosed with early onset Parkinson's Disease, changing his life and the lives of his family forever. While he and his wife continued working until 1996, sons Peter, in 1989, and Jon in 1993, returned to Patten after graduating from college to continue their parent's retail legacy. In 1997 the second generation of retailers took over and Ellis Family Market was formed. Al volunteered many hours of service to the communities he served; working with local towns to strengthen and coordinate their ambulance services; as chairman of Katahdin Valley Health Center board of directors, as chairman of the SAD #25 board of directors; as an Aroostook County court mediator; volunteering hours grooming snowmobile trails for the Bowlin-Mattagamon and Rockabema Snowsled Clubs, and serving on the board of directors for Katahdin Trust Company. Over the years, Al gave tirelessly of his talents - helping to resolve financial issues and encouraging the towns to work together for the economic betterment of the entire region were foremost in his mind when he envisioned the creation of the Upper Valley Economic Council (UVEC) in the late 1990's. His legacy to the residents of the northern Penobscot/southern Aroostook counties is one of positive affirmation in their resilience to meet, compromise and resolve whatever problems they confront in continuing to survive in "God's country."
Al is survived by his wife of 53 years; his oldest son, Mark, the only one who got away!, who is currently stationed in Casablanca, Morocco, and his wife, Minerva, and their children, Victoria, Kevin, Christopher and Michelle; Peter and his wife, Kelly, of Veazie, and their children, Danielle, and husband, Scott, Chelsey, Logan, Sam and Sydney; and Jonathan and his wife, Susan, and their children Ralph, Madeleine, George and Zeke; sister and brother-in-law, Dorene and Tim Humphrey; brother-in-law Dick Clark, sister-in-law, Leslie Thistle, and close cousins, Bob Ellis and Linda Bennett, along with special nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his parents and a brother-in-law. The family would like to thank Dr. Marty Hrynick, Dr. Ted Sussman, and Ted Pettengill, PA for their years of medical care and services; the loving care of the many nurses who befriended Albert during the close to 12 years he resided at Mt. Heights, and Hospice of Aroostook who enabled Al to leave in comfort and in peace. Those who wish are encouraged to make a donation locally in his memory. Visiting hours will be from 10-11 am, Sat. Feb. 6 at the Stetson Memorial United Methodist Church, Patten with funeral services to follow at 11 with Rev. Ruth Foss officiating. A luncheon will be held after the service, with many thanks to the United Methodist Women and employees at Ellis Family Market. Funeral arrangements and transport to the Harvard Brain Tissue Resource Center, McLean Hospital, Belmont, Mass, by Bowers Funeral Home with special thanks to Tony Bowers for services "above and beyond" his job description! For online condolences please visit www.bowersfuneral.com