Edward “Ward” H. Ellis, Jr.

January 5, 1949 - November 8, 2015
Edward “Ward” H. Ellis, Jr.

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Ward Ellis, 66, passed away unexpectedly at home on November 8, 2015. He had been a resident of James City County for more than forty years and was an educator and coach with Williamsburg-James City County Schools during those years.
Ellis was born on January 5, 1949, in Tampa, Florida, and spent his youth moving around the United States and Germany with his family. His father was an Army officer.
He came to Virginia in the fall of 1966 to attend the College of William and Mary where he attained his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in 1970 and 1971, respectively. He taught science at both middle and high school levels at Berkeley, James Blair, Lafayette and Toano schools.
From 1985 to 1994, he was the principal at Lafayette High School where he had also coached wrestling and football. Coaching was a passion and he was part of the coaching staff when Lafayette played for the state championship in the 1970s.
In the fall of 1994, he moved to Toano Middle School where he taught physical science to eighth grade students until his retirement in 2011. While at Toano, he was named Middle School Teacher of the Year.
He was a natural as a teacher because he was so engaging. He loved his students and relished in connecting with them and getting them as interested in science and learning as he was.
Ellis graduated from Heidelberg American High School where he was an athletic standout, lettering in football, wrestling, and track and winning the USAREUR championship as a heavyweight wrestler. At William and Mary, he was a football walk-on who was awarded an athletic scholarship after his freshman year.  He remained an avid William and Mary fan throughout his life and was a member of the W&M Quarterback Club.
He loved athletics his entire life, as a participant, a coach, or a fan. In addition to his success as a high school and college athlete, he ran marathons and loved to watch his children and then grandchildren compete.
Ellis was an extrovert and nothing made him happier than being surrounded by friends and family. In the late 1970s, he held his first Toano Toad Derby, which he hosted every year or so at his home. He invited people from near and far to enjoy a great celebration that included tractor surfing and toad racing.
He is survived by his wife of 46 years, Geri Schnebli Ellis and two daughters: Erin Ellis and Elizabeth Ellis. Also surviving are Erin’s children, Audrey Ellis Kovacs, Adam Ellis Kovacs, and Heidi Ellis Kovacs, and son-in-law, Thomas Kovacs. His brother, Drew Ellis, and his wife, Judy Kinshaw-Ellis, also survive him. All live in James City County.
His was predeceased by his parents, Hope DeMore and Edward H. Ellis, Sr.
The family will receive friends Thursday, November 12, 2015 from 5 pm-8 pm at Bucktrout Funeral Home, 4124 Ironbound Rd. Williamsburg, VA 23188. A funeral mass will be held on Friday, November 13, 2015 at 2pm at St. Olaf Catholic Church,104 Norge Ln. Williamsburg, VA 23188. Interment is private. In lieu of flowers memorial contributions may be made to the HEYFARL scholarship, through the William and Mary TribeAthletics.com is suggested.


Friday, November 13, 2015
12:00 AM

St. Olaf Catholic Church - Directions
104 Norge Lane
Williamsburg, VA 23188


Thursday, November 12, 2015
12:00 AM - 12:00 AM

Bucktrout Funeral Home - Directions
4124 Ironbound Road
Williamsburg, VA 23188

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  • November 12, 2015
    Thomas Holt says:
    I did not know Mr Ellis very long. He loved teaching his students as I was one of his last students to go through his final 8th grade science class. He warned me about the "paddle" but never got it. My condolences go out to his family and friends and anyone who had a chance to know him and learn under him. He will be missed deeply.

  • November 12, 2015
    Edward Boyd says:
    Ward was a great leader. You could always depend on him to have your back and he stood up for his faculty I owe much to Ward and the World of Education and WJCC have lost a great man.

  • November 12, 2015
    Barbara Levine says:
    Dear Geri, ELizabeth & Erin, We were so sorry to hear about Ward. We have such great memories of him . I know my girls were crazy about him as a teacher and a friend. He was always so wonderful to Zoë and Alex. All our love to you and your family. The Levine Family

  • November 12, 2015
    Alan Robertson says:
    I was blessed to have known Ward for some 20 years. I knew him as a fellow school administrator and as a classroom teacher. Ward was an honorable man. A man you could always turn to for an honest opinion, and someone who would always help you out in a pinch. He was almost always upbeat, even in the face of adversity. I was AP at Toano when Ward taught science. His students adored him and the feeling was mutual. He truly cared about his students. His lessons were great fun. In fact, I tried to catch as many first hand as I could. My favorite was the rocket propelled chair across the foyer. Ward was one of a kind. He stands unique in my memory among educators that I've known. I count myself better for having worked with him.

  • November 13, 2015
    Lee Schuster says:
    Geri, Erin and Elizabeth, I am so sorry for your loss. Ward will be greatly missed by so many. I taught with him at Toano and he worked wonders with all his students but especially the challenging ones. He turned many lives around and made a lasting impression on all he touched. He was a special person, with many talents and a wonderful personality. He was frank but honest. He always had a positive outlook and a smile on his face. I feel fortunate for knowing him.