ASHLAND – James Michael Ellis—or Jim, as he was commonly known—passed away on March 12, 2021, at the age of 79.
A longtime resident of Ashland, Massachusetts, James was born in St. Paul, Minnesota on May 4, 1941.
Throughout his life, James won the affection of many as a devoted husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, and friend, bringing light to the world with his relentless spirit, warm heart, and a witty sense of humor that he carried with him into his final days.
After graduating from Natick High School, James entered the Airforce, serving for four years on active duty and two years in reserve.
He worked tirelessly to support and nurture his family alongside his beloved wife, Judith A. Ellis, with whom he was married for nearly 50 years.
He spent many years with the International Order of the Odd Fellows (I.O.O.F), forging strong friendships and engaging in a variety of philanthropic efforts in his community. He was especially proud of his accomplishments within the I.O.O.F and was a Past Grand Marshal of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts and Grand Patriarch of the Grand Encampment of Massachusetts. He remained an active and participating member of the Odd Fellows following the culmination of these roles and continued to recruit, support, and befriend new members.
Later in his life, James became involved with Edwards Church in Framingham, Massachusetts. Edwards offered him a peaceful sanctuary in the face of a strange and rapidly changing world, and he loved the community he found there. He attended services and meetings even as his health declined, and eventually joined the Board of Trustees to further contribute to that community.
At home, James loved watching the colorful array of birds frequenting his yard, and he found joy in constructing birdhouses, castles, cabins, and manors. He loved his dog, Addie, and spent considerable time catering to her ceaseless energy by tossing tennis balls and giving belly-rubs. He was a great fan of music, consuming anything from the old-school country of Johnny Cash, the symphonic swells of Beethoven, and the hum of bagpipes—often at excessive volumes that reverberated throughout the house, shaking the walls and scattering the cats. And most of all, he loved his family—which multiplied into an abundance of children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren—and strove to remain close and involved in their lives as they gradually spread across the country.
James leaves behind his wife, Judith, of Ashland; his sisters, Mary Ellen Dumond, of Aurora, Colorado and Susan Derosier, of Kenai, Alaska; his four children, Kenneth Ellis, of Ossipee, NH; Patricia Potenza and her husband Vincent, of Maynard, MA; Christine Ellis Ward and her husband Thomas, of Stillwater, OK; and Melinda Ellis and her partner Josh, of Springfield, ME. He will furthermore be missed by his fourteen grandchildren, James, of Ashland, MA; Richard, of Wakefield, NH; Torrie, of Sherman, ME; Nico, of Effingham, NH; Zakkary, of Springfield, ME; Alexander, of Springfield, ME; Ashley, of Stillwater, OK; Stephanie, of Stillwater, OK; Nathaniel, of Stillwater, OK; Cindy, of Scarborough, ME; Christina, of Maynard, MA; Andrea, of Maynard, MA; Blake (Rebecca), of Wakefield, NH; Brannon, of Whitinsville, and his five great-grandchildren.
James was predeceased by his first wife, Martha, and his daughter, Michelle.
James’ family requests that those considering donations make them to Edwards Church (39 Edwards St., Framingham, MA, edwardschurch.org).
A small, private memorial service will be scheduled at a later date.
Arrangements by Matarese Funeral Home in Ashland.