Douglas Ellis, a pump house operator who worked at the former U.S. Army tank farm at Lutak and lived here about 15 years, died of heart disease March 10 in Dover-Foxcroft, Maine. He was 87.
Ellis moved his wife and five children into a homestead near the Chilkoot River bridge built by father-in-law Ed Harrington. The family hunted and fished and enjoyed the neighborhood that included only one or two other families. In his final years, Alaska was an enduring memory, family members said.
“He couldn’t get enough books about Alaska. His dream was always to go back,” said son Douglas Ellis II.
Douglas L. Ellis Jr. was born in Oakland, Maine to Douglas and Macy Ellis and raised on a horse farm near Gilford. As a youth, he worked in wool and hardwood mills around Gilford. He entered the Seabees at an early age and joined the Navy, serving in the South Pacific. He later joined the Army and was stationed in Germany before a transfer to Fort Richardson in Anchorage. He left the military in the mid-1950s.
He worked here as a civilian, leaving about 15 years later for a job transfer to a pipeline station at Tok. Given the choice of a transfer to Whittier, Ellis moved back to Maine, where he went back to work at the same wood mill where he worked as a youth. Following separation from wife Jean Ellis in 1972, he returned to Alaska briefly, to work at a tank farm in Whittier.
Ellis married Marge Beaupre. Later in life he enjoyed trips to Florida and time spent at a remote lakeside cabin in Maine, listening to loons. “He was just a country boy. He always wrote home and he was good to my mom. He helped her out quite a bit,” said sister Connie Carpenter.
Ellis spent the final year of his life getting reacquainted with the children from his first marriage, time that family members this week said they would treasure.
Surviving family members include wife Marge Ellis of Abbot, Maine; son Douglas Ellis II of Ororo, Maine; daughters Mary Ann Carmichael of League City, Texas; Janette Ellis of Anchorage and Jeanne Bitzan of Big Lake. He also is survived by sister Connie Carpenter of Abbot and by stepdaughters Carol Novellino, Sharon Dunaway and Lisa Brown.
He was preceded in death by son Edward Ellis and by first wife Jean Ellis.
A military service is planned later this spring in Abbot. Cards may be sent to the family care of daughter Jeanne Bitzan at P.O. Box 298958, Wasilla, AK 99629.