Joseph Walter Ellis
Joseph Walter Ellis
  • June 17, 1928 - July 16, 2017
  • Del Mar, California

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Joseph W. Ellis, Jr. June 17, 1928-July 16, 2017 Del Mar.

Joseph W. Ellis, Jr. was born June 17, 1928 in Jacksonville, Florida and spent his youth in Bridge City, Texas and in Sanford, Florida. While in high school there he played quarterback with the Seminole High School football team, the “Celery Feds.”

Joe served in the United States Marine Corps from 1946 to 1947and served in the Texas National Guard from 1947 to 1950. In 1951, he reenlisted in the Marine Corps and volunteered for service during the Korean War. From December 1951 to December 1952, he saw combat on the front lines with the 2nd Battalion of the 7th Marines in some of the war’s worst fighting.

After Korea, Joe became a drill instructor and trained hundreds of recruits at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego. After having seen the horrors of war himself, he felt a deep responsibility to teach other young men how to survive and function effectively in combat.

Joe met the love of his life, Elizabeth Ione Bush, a school teacher and Lutheran Church parish worker, in January 1953 while on leave in Ensenada, Mexico and succeeded in persuading her to be his wife. They married on September 29, 1953 in Granite Falls Minnesota. After a cross-country honeymoon camping trip, they settled first in La Jolla and later in Solana Beach and Del Mar. Theirs was one of the world’s great romances, and they cherished and respected each other in a successful and happy marriage for 64 years. Their son, Reuben Joseph Ellis, was born in 1955. Joe was a loving role model to his son, and as adults they were friends and business partners.

Joe remained in the Marines until 1954 and subsequently worked in a number of positions in the North County area, including at Solana Lumber and Kinetics Corporation. Joe had a true entrepreneur’s instinct that inspired him to found several business ventures. In 1976, he founded Ellis Farms, Inc. and reclaimed almost 400 acres of fallow farmland in Borrego Springs, California as a wholesale nursery specializing in ornamental palms. Nursery operations also expanded to include growing grounds in Pauma Valley and Desert Center. Ellis Farms became a leader in the southern California nursery industry and for over thirty years provided thousands of palms and trees to the region’s “green infrastructure.” Joe always emphasized how grateful he was to the many farm employees who worked with and for him through the years. True to his nature, Joe founded a new agricultural venture, Mount Palomar Avocados at age 87, adopting a new low-water use method of avocado production designed to address California’s water shortage.

Joe was a devout Christian and with his wife a long-time member of Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Encinitas. He volunteered as a scoutmaster in the Boy Scouts of Americas and supported the Boys and Girls Club. He was to his core a humble man with a deeply creative spirit. He delighted in starting new projects and was busy making new plans up until his last day on earth. He touched and influenced many people, more than he knew. Joe is survived by his beloved wife of 64 years, Ione Ellis, his son, Reuben Ellis, his grandsons Isaac Ellis and Daniel Ellis, his granddaughter Emerson Ellis, his great-granddaughter Aven Ellis and a niece and nephew. He is loved, missed, and remembered.

Memorial donations may be made to the Boys and Girls Club, 533 Lomas Santa Fe Dr., Solana Beach, CA 92075.