News Details

November 03, 2015

Wesleyan Icon "Hank" Ellis Passes Away

West Virginia Wesleyan College long-time baseball and basketball coach and health and P.E. professor, Franklin C. “Hank” Ellis, died October 29, 2015 in Clarksburg, West Virginia.

A 1939 graduate of Buckhannon-Upshur High School, Coach Ellis earned a bachelor’s degree from West Virginia Wesleyan College in 1943, and a master’s degree from West Virginia University in 1947. He was a professional basketball player for the Wheeling Blues from 1947-1950. He coached and taught at Martin’s Ferry High School in 1949.

He returned to Wesleyan in 1950.  From 1950-1990, he taught health and P.E, and served as the head basketball coach with 303 career wins (1950-1971), the head baseball coach with 293 career wins (1951-1986), and the head cross country and football coach at Wesleyan where he also served as the Athletic Director. In 2011, he was the recipient of the President's Medal. 

In 1969, he became the first Wesleyan coach to serve as a member of the U.S. Olympic Basketball Committee and served in that role until 1972. In 1986, the Wesleyan baseball field was named the Hank Ellis Baseball Field. Retiring from Wesleyan in 1990, he was also a member of the Emeritus Club.

Coach Ellis married Ruth Alice Sherrard who preceded him in death on October 26, 2009.  He is survived by one son, Frank Ellis ’83 and family of Buckhannon; two daughters, Cheri Green ’69 of Buckhannon and Jeanne Zickefoose ’75 and family of Bridgeport, WV; five grandsons, Clint Green and family, Jon Green and family, Frank Ellis, all of Buckhannon, Greg Zickefoose ’99 and family of National Harbor, MD, and Brian Zickefoose and family of Lancaster, PA; three granddaughters, Mindi McGrew ’95 and family of Hurricane, WV, Shelli Lantz and family, Olivia Ellis, all of Buckhannon; and eight great-grandsons.

Coach Ellis served in the United States Naval Reserve from 1942 retiring in 1967 as a Lieutenant Commander.  He also served as the Commanding Officer on the USS LCT 710 from May of 1944 through March of 1945. Along with other soldiers, he made the D-Day landing on Utah Beach, Normandy France on June 6, 1944. In June 1945, he was the Gunnery Officer on the USS LCI 728 in Pearl Harbor, HI.

Ellis was inducted into the B-UHS Sports Hall of Fame, the WV Sports Hall of Fame, and the WVWC Sports Hall of Fame. 

A life member of the VFW Post #3663, he was also a member of Frank B. Bartlett Post # 7 American Legion, Franklin Lodge # 7 AF & AM with a Master Mason and the Buckhannon Lions Club. In 2015, he was awarded the French Legion Medal Of Honor.  
Friends will be received Friday, November 6, 2015 from 3-9 PM at the Virginia Thomas Law Center for the Performing Arts at Wesleyan. A funeral service will be held 1 p.m. on  Saturday at Wesley Chapel with the Rev. LeRoy Jones ’59 and the Rev. Ronald McCauley ’59 officiating.  Burial will follow in the Heavner Cemetery in Buckhannon. The Upshur Honor Guard will conduct Military Honors at the graveside.  In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the Hank Ellis Scholarship Fund c/o WVWC.  Online condolences may be made to the family at  Poling-St. Clair Funeral Home is in charge of the arrangements.



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