Lewis Leonard Ellis
October 26,1928-November 4,2013
Resident of Santa Cruz
Lew passed away peacefully on November 4th after a very long battle with frontal temporal dementia.
Though born in Florida, he moved to New York City at a very young age and was subsequently raised in an Episcopalian children's home. He joined the Army when he was 18 and became part of General MacArthur's occupation forces in Japan at the end of World War II. He then joined the Coast Guard, serving six years in the North Atlantic on weather patrol aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Casco Bay.
After his honorable discharge, Lew's civilian life had him pursuing an adventurous lifestyle. He was a member of the elite skin-diving club, the Golden Gate Aquaknights. With them, he would scuba-dive deep water off the Farrallon Islands, the Monterey Deep Canyon (diving 130 feet) and became the club's most accomplished free-diving abalone fisherman.
Through mutual dive club friends, he would be introduced to Nancy Ann Begley. Within a few short months, recognizing they shared the same adventurous spirit, they embarked on the greatest of all their adventures - a marriage that lasted over 55 years, bringing them the joy of two children, Linda Dianne and Jeffrey Dean. From the very beginning, Lew's devotion to his family was complete. As his children grew up, they could always count on their father to give them a hand, to support them during challenging times and to love them unconditionally and, especially, bring them an unexpected smile with his funny wit.
Lew had a beautiful smile, a huge heart and amazing quick wit which became legendary amongst his friends over the years. Laughter and living life to the fullest was something which he embraced and brought to his family. Quality of life surpassed quantity in his life - leveraging each moment to its fullest. His ever-curious, inquisitive nature empowered he and Nancy to spend many years travelling the world. One of his greatest attributes was his ability to enter a room filled with strangers and leave with a room filled with friends. His charisma and charm would quickly bring down the barriers, while his sincerity would win your heart.
Lew began his long career with Lockheed Missiles and Space Company in Sunnyvale, CA as an electronics technician working in the research and development Flight Control lab. Within a short time, he became the supervisor of this guidance and control facility. He was regarded by his co-workers as a "can-do" leader, always fair, and always generous sharing his knowledge and skills. He left a legacy of integrity and honest leadership while taking with him lifelong friendships which he would continue to enjoy into his retirement years.
He is survived by his wife, Nancy, his daughter Linda and husband Steve Davis, his son, Jeffrey and his wife Camille Ellis, his granddaughter Courtney and her husband, Michael Hanson, granddaughter Michelle Ellis, step-grandson Alex McGregor and granddaughter Taylor Davis.
A celebration of Lew's life will be held early December. His ashes will be scattered at sea at a later date. Should you wish to honor his memory, please make a donation to
in his name.
Published in Santa Cruz Sentinel on Nov. 10, 2013