Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Ransom Asbury Ellis, Jr. was born on January 18, 1920, on a farm near Leann, Missouri the son of Ransom Asbury Ellis and Mary Susan (Akin) Ellis. His formative years were spent in the Clay Hill area in Northern Barry County, Missouri, learning the value of hard work on his family's farm. He attended the one-room Clay Hill school house near his home through the eighth grade, which was taught at times by his father and his sisters. He rode one of the first school buses to Aurora High School to get his high school education. He graduated as Valedictorian of the Class of 1936.

In 1936, Ransom entered Southwest Missouri State Teachers' College, now Missouri State University. He worked his way through college by working as a "House Boy" for campus housing and by being a member of the band of the Aurora National Guard Houn' Dog Regiment. While at State Teacher's College, Ransom participated in forensics and debate under Dr. Virginia Craig.

Nearly concurrent with his graduation from State Teachers' College in May, 1940, the Houn'Dog Regiment was called to active duty preparatory to the beginning of World War II. He initially served in an anti-aircraft battalion but, because of his age and education, Ransom was accepted into Officer Candidate School and after graduation, entered the newly formed Army Air Corps. His squadron was sent oversees to England in late 1943. He saw combat over France, Germany, Romania and Europe until the end of the war.

On one mission over Southern Germany, near the end of the war, his plane was disabled by enemy fire and made a forced landing in France near Mulhouse, behind German lines. With the help of friendly French farmers he was hidden in hay stacks and barns until he could be handed over to the French Resistance, who smuggled him across the allied lines in a truckload of fish. During this episode he was declared missing in action for several weeks. Later in the war, he served as a Liaison Officer at Orly Air Force Base near Paris, where he greeted and took care of many important dignitaries. As a result of his service, he was awarded the Croix de Guerre with Gold Star by the French Government and was made an honorary pilot in the French Air Force.

In November, 1945, he returned home for the first time since the beginning of the war. He was discharged from active duty in January, 1946 but remained active in the United States Air Force Reserve. He served as a Procurement Officer for the B-52 bomber program, and officially retired with the rank of Major in 1985.

After returning from war, Ransom entered the University of Missouri at Kansas City School of Law. In December, 1948, he graduated from law school with honors (Order of the Coif), and began practicing law in Springfield, Missouri on January 1, 1949 as a solo practitioner but soon joined the law firm of Neale, Newman, Bradshaw, Freeman and Neale. Ransom later practiced with Daniel, Clampett, Ellis, Rittershouse and Dalton, before founding what is now Ellis, Ellis, Hammons & Johnson, P.C. in 1977. Throughout his professional career in Springfield, his practice was primarily limited to the representation of management in labor and employment matters. In so doing, he handled many significant collective bargaining negotiations and labor strikes in Missouri and the surrounding states. Ransom retired after 51 years of the practice of law on January 1, 2010, close to the age of 90 years.

During his professional career, Ransom was an active member of the Missouri Bar Association, the American Bar Association and the Springfield Metropolitan Bar Association, serving as President of the SMBA in 1985. In 2006, Ransom was honored by the SMBA with its Distinguished Attorney Award. He also valued the opportunity to give back to his community by serving as a Member and the Chairman of the Board of Public Utilities for Springfield, one of the founding Elders of National Avenue Christian Church and Chairman of its Board of Elders, Chairman of the United Way Fund Drive, Member of the Advisory Board of St. John's Hospital, Board Member of Springfield Chamber of Commerce and a charter member of Twin Oaks Country Club.

Ransom was preceded in death by his parents; his first wife, Hazel Joan (Anderson) Ellis; his three brothers and their wives, Loyd Romeo Ellis (Muriel Cline), Royle Goldman Ellis (Reva Seburn) and Linus Lyle Ellis (Uel McCubbin); his two sisters, Fama Lorraine (Lindholm) Ellis (Paul Lindolm) and Itris Lucille (Ellis) Eubanks; his daughter-in-law, Marjehne Anne (Vasse) Ellis; and his granddaughter, Rachael Lynn Ellis.

Ransom is survived by his wife Frances Dye Ellis; his sons, Ransom A Ellis, III (Jennifer) and Christopher Anderson Ellis; his grandchildren, Ransom Asbury Ellis, IV (Kelstan) and Taryn Delaney Ellis; his three step-children: Alan Dye (Missi), Jennifer Barnes (Bill) and Lesley Dales (Cliff) and their six children, Will Barnes (Clare), Taylor Barnes, Walker Dales, Frances Dales, Timothy Dye and Millicent Dye; and his nieces and nephews.

Visitation will be held at the Chapel of King's Way United Methodist Church, 2401 South Lone Pine Avenue on Friday, April 13, 2012, between 5:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. Funeral services are scheduled for King's Way on Saturday, April 14, 2012, at 1:00 p.m. Private internment will be at Evergreen Cemetery in Republic, Missouri. In lieu of flowers the family requests donations be made to Convoy of Hope, or charity of donor's choice. Funeral arrangements will be made through Gorman Scharpf Funeral Home.