Charles W. Ellis, 85 formerly of Conway Springs, died Saturday, January, 19, 2019 in Wichita, KS.
He was born October 25, 1933 at Haviland, Kansas to Howard Robert Ellis and Eva May (Griffin) Ellis. Charles grew up in Haviland where he attended the local public schools. He graduated from Haviland High School with the class of 1951 before attending Kansas State University for three semesters.
On January 29, 1953, he was inducted into the U.S. Army where he served his country as a member of the Signal Corp as a Field Radio Repairman and in Wing Aircraft repair. He was honorably discharged on January 13, 1956 and returned to continue his education at Wichita University.
Charles went to work for Stromberg Carlson Company in August of 1957 working in telephone central office installation for the next 2 1/2 years all over the country.
He was united in marriage to Lucille Virginia (Melson) on November 29, 1957 at Pratt, Kansas. They moved to Conway Springs on November 27, 1959 following the purchase of the local telephone exchange by his family.
Charles soon became very active in community work in Conway Springs. He served on the Conway Springs City Council for 10 years from 1961 -1971 and was a charter member of the Conway Springs Chamber of Commerce, serving as presidents several terms.
Charles was a charter member of the Conway Springs Ambulance Volunteer Ambulance Crew. He was elected the first Conway Springs Ambulance Director in 1969 and held the position for 18 years. Charles supervised, recruited and assisted in training numerous volunteers throughout his tenure. Charles was instrumental in requesting the great support from the community for good Emergency Medical Service that has and still exists today. On December 31, 1987, Charles retired from EMS after 26 years of EMS volunteer participation.
Although the first telephone service was on a two party line strung on fence posts, it progressed in Conway Springs due to the Ellis’. Charles’ family bought the exchange from the Sedgwick Telephone Co. in October of 1959. They made extensive rebuilding and improvements over the years, including burying all rural lines, and upgrading service to one party in 1975. A Mobile Telephone system was installed in 1962 and upgraded to a modern IMTS System in 1976. Haviland purchased the long-distance facilities from Southwestern Bell and completed a major remodeling of their business office at 211 W. Spring Ave in 1979.
In January 1984, Kansas Cellular Telephone Co. was formed as a partnership between Haviland Telephone Co. along with two other companies. The organization signed an agreement with SW Bell to institute Cellular Mobile Telephone service to the Wichita-El Dorado area. This was a revolutionary new concept and placed Haviland Telephone Co in on the ground floor of a technology that changed wire communications forever. Charles served the company as president from 1982 until his retirement in December of 1991.
Charles was an active member of the First Presbyterian Church in Conway Springs where he was an Elder and past clerk of session for many years. He served the church in numerous capacities as a committeeman and assisted on numerous boards.
Charles served on the Conway Springs Board of Education from 1971 – 1973. He also sang in his church choir, in a men’s quartet and CS Community Chorus for many years.
Charles was preceded in death by his parents; one son Dale Ellis, one sister Norma Jones.
He is survived by his wife Lucille Ellis; one son Kenneth Ellis of Wichita, KS; two daughters: Elaine Ellis of Belleview, Nebraska; Lisa (Leland) Bittle of Andover, KS; one brother Robert Ellis of Haviland, KS; 6 grandchildren, 4 great grandchildren and a number of other relatives and friends.
Funeral services will be conducted at conducted at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, January 26, 2019 from the United Methodist Church, Conway Springs, with the Rev. Bryce Hansen and Pastor Jason Lowery officiating. Interment will follow in Conway Springs Cemetery, Conway Springs, Kansas. Arrangements are by Ebersole Mortuary, Conway Springs. On line condolences and guest book are available www.ebersolemortuary.com.
Memorials have been established with the Conway Springs EMS or to Angel Flight.