July 19, 1938 – December 16, 2023
Kenneth Gerard Ellis, 85 of Vestal, passed away peacefully on December 16, 2023, after several years of declining health. Born on July 19, 1938 in Endicott, NY, he was the middle child and son of the late Kenneth F. and Lucille Ellis of Vestal.
He is survived by his wife of 61 years, Joyce Ellis of Vestal, his four children, four granddaughters, sister Brenda Lane of Florida, nieces and nephews. He is preceded in death by his parents, sister Joyce Greene, and his close personal friends: Herb Greene, Robert Decker, Carl Milnes, and Roger Schultz.
Fondly known as Ken or "Jerry" by friends and family, he grew up and lived his life in Vestal, marrying and settling down in Vestal Center. An avid gardener and outdoorsman, he enjoyed fishing and hunting especially during spring trout season, on the ice at Quaker Lake, or being in the woods on a crisp Autumn day, (and usually a baloney-spread sandwich in his pocket!). He loved digging in the dirt planting a big garden or riding the tractor mowing the many acres on Glenwood Road. He was involved in the numerous activities of his children from coaching little league and Cinderella softball, being scoutmaster of Scout Troop 220, watching from the sidelines at band or winter guard competitions, building contraptions and tinkering in the garage, or loading up the car for an afternoon ride to Highland Lake, an outing to pick berries or to go fishing.
A tool and die maker by trade, Ken attended IBM's tool and die apprentice program after graduating from Vestal Central High School. He went from machinist to engineer and retired from IBM after 36 years of service. His strong work ethic lives on with his children; Todd Ellis of Vestal, Nathan & Allison Ellis of Newark Valley, Penny & James Maurer of Bow, NH, Beth Ellis & Yvonne Trumpowsky of Endwell. He was most proud of sending his children to college on a laymen's salary and took great pride in the accomplishments of his granddaughters; Ashley Keating, Kelsey Compeau, Alexis Elwood, and Ava Maurer, who all affectionately called him Gramps/Papa.
His family highly regarded his keen sense of fashion—plaid flannel, blue jeans, and a John Deere hat adorned with a gold fish hook. And they remember fondly "Grandpa Hoppagrass's" words of wisdom: "watch the juice!", "I'm just tellin' ya", and "um…that's bad stuff".
Ken was a member of the Vestal Historical Society, Vestal 50+ Club where he enjoyed Class of '56 monthly luncheons catching up with classmates, and also volunteering with the Men's Group at Vestal Center UMC. A history buff, he loved reading and learning local and New York State history. Ken had a fondness for his wife's venison scallopini, lemon meringue pies, spiedies with Roma's Italian bread, and watching Gunsmoke, westerns and historic movies from the comfort of his recliner. Most of all he loved warm days sitting on his front porch watching the birds and enjoying the peace of Vestal Center. He will be missed by close and extended family, friends, special neighbors, and his furry pals, Charlie and Venja.
A memorial service for Ken will be held Saturday, December 30, 2023 11:00 am with visitation for all starting at 10:00 am, Vestal Center United Methodist Church, 478 West Hill Rd, Vestal. A light luncheon will follow the service.
In lieu of flowers, please consider honoring Ken with a memorial contribution to the Broome County Humane Society or Vestal Center United Methodist Church. Arrangements by the Coleman & Daniels Funeral Home.