SAN ANGELO Ellis Word Owens was born Nov. 19, 1924, in San Angelo, Texas. He was the only child of Clint and Stella Owens and he grew up on ranches in West Texas. Ellis graduated from high school in 1943, and went immediately into the Navy where he served in the Pacific on the destroyer, the USS Morris. The Morris was hit by a Japanese suicide plane during the battle of Okinawa. Many sailors died in the attack but the Morris was able to return to port in Hawaii. At the end of the war he proposed to his childhood sweetheart, Vircille Rowe, on the banks of the Concho River in San Angelo. She accepted his proposal and they were married at the home of Jeff and Laura Owens on Liveoak Creek on June 22, 1945. Ellis and Vircille later moved to Balmorhea and farmed for a while before buying the Santiago Peak Ranch just outside of the Big Bend National Park. They raised sheep and goats and four children while ranching this land, which is some of the roughest country in Texas. During the drought of the 50s Ellis was able to make his land payments by supplementing the ranch income through rough necking, operating a dozer and working as a powder man for the REA in the Big Bend Park. During these years Ellis and Vircille made sure that their children were in church every Sunday, even though it was a 90-mile drive to Sanderson where they worshipped. They supplemented their children's Christian education having nightly devotional times with singing and Bible reading. There were occasional pop questions on the passage that was read and all the children knew that they had better know the answers. In 1968, Ellis moved his family to Pecos County where they continued to ranch in partnership with his father on the Canon Ranch. In 1971, they traded the Santiago Peak Ranch for the Circle Dot Ranch where they continued to ranch until retiring in 1992. Even after retiring he and Vircille continued to fight the bitterweed and hoarhound, working together. He remained a faithful member of the Church of Christ until his death. He was preceded in death by a son, Dr. Robert Ellis Owens; and is survived by his wife of 68 years, Vircille; and their children, Judy Brown and her husband, David, Clint Owens and his wife, Starr, and JoEllis McCall and her husband, Rick. Ellis is also survived by his daughter-in-law, Kathy Evans and her husband, Dale; 13 grandchildren; 18 great-grandchildren; and one great-great-grandchild on the way. The family wishes to thank all of those who were so kind and helpful through the past few years.
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Published in GoSanAngelo from July 2 to July 3, 2013