Rev. Dr. James Willard Ellis, Sr.

October 19, 1930 ~ July 19, 2021 (age 90)

Obituary Image


     Reverend Doctor James Willard Ellis, Sr., was born on October 19, 1930 to the late John and Julia Moss Ellis in Halifax County, North Carolina. He was the youngest of 7 children. On Monday July 19, 2021, God called him to his heavenly home at the age of 90.

     He attended public schools in Halifax County North Carolina and completed his training at the Halifax County Training School. He was also a student at Shaw University Divinity School where he was on the honor roll during his entire time there.

     At the age of 11, James joined First Baptist Church in Weldon, North Carolina. As he grew in the church, he served in many capacities, including Deacon, Male Chorus member and the Adult Men’s Sunday School Class.

    In 1949 on Christmas Day, he was married to the late Mamie Virginia Goode and to this union, two sons were born, James Jr. and Alvin.

     As an adult, James was a long-time employee of the A&P Food Store in Weldon, North Carolina. He became the store’s first black cashier in 1966. Advanced job training prepared him to become an instructor at Halifax Community College in Cashier Sales Techniques. James was employed with the North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles as a drivers license examiner. In his later years he worked in the shipping department at Patch Rubber Company in Weldon, North Carolina. His best job of all, which was not really a job, was when he was called to become a minister. James preached the gospel of Jesus Christ whenever he was asked with a glad heart because he loved serving the Lord. He was the Shepherd at Mount Gilbert Baptist Church in North Carolina for 26 years, retiring in 2018.

     James married Frances Brown in September 2012. To this union, James acquired three children; Tina, Sharon and William “Bill”.

     He was an avid bowler and viewed himself as a professional, all because he had his own bowling ball and shoes. He bowled many games with friends and his sons, James Jr. and Alvin. James also dabbled in politics although he never sought public office. He preferred to work behind the scenes to improve the lives of his fellow man. James was elected to the Board of Trustees of the Health Education Foundation of Eastern Carolina Inc. serving as a representative for Halifax Memorial Hospital. James had a great sense of humor and enjoyed sharing anecdotes about life.

     James was preceded in death by his six siblings. John, Richard, Clyde, Melvin, Nellie, Mildred and Mrytice.

     He leaves cherished memories to his loving and dedicated wife, Frances of the home; two wonderful sons, James Jr. (Jackie) of Durham, NC and Alvin (Ruby) of Raleigh, NC; two step-daughters, Tina (Spencer) of Fayetteville, NC and Sharon (Terrance) of Rocky Mount, NC; one stepson, William of Emporia, VA; seven loving grandchildren; five step-grandchildren; nine great-grandchildren; a host of caring nieces, nephews, other relatives and friends; devoted special caretakers, Ms. Emma Powell and Mary Louise Adams.


Relatives and Friends are encouraged to visit Rev. Dr. Ellis' tribute wall to share memories, extend condolences and to order floral tributes, as sentiments to the family.  


The Management and Staff of Knox-High Mortuary, Inc. is privileged to provide

"Distinctive Services, With The Essence Of Excellence"

to the family of Reverend  Doctor James Willard Ellis, Sr.

We ask that you join us in remembering the family in both thought and prayer. 

 "Diligent in Business; Fervent in Spirit." - Romans: 12:11




To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Rev. Dr. James Willard Ellis, Sr., please visit our floral store.


July 24, 2021

12:00 PM to 4:00 PM
Knox-High Mortuary, Inc.
568 Halifax St.
Emporia, VA 23847

July 25, 2021

12:00 PM to 2:00 PM
First Baptist Church
301 West 3rd Street
Weldon, NC 27890

Celebration of Life
July 25, 2021

2:00 PM
First Baptist Church
301 West 3rd Street
Weldon, NC 27890

Interment following funeral service
July 25, 2021

Crestview Memorial Cemetery
489 Smith Church Road
Roanoke Rapids, NC 27870

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