Larry Ellis Will Be Remembered For His Smile, And His Love For The Community

By Manotick Messenger Staff

Manotick said good-bye to one its most beloved citizens on Monday as a large crowd turned out to Manotick United Church to pay respects to local historian and Manotick Messenger columnist Larry Ellis.

“Larry lived in our village for more than 70 years,” said Rev. Paul Whynacht of Manotick United Church. “And in that time he became one of the beloved treasures in our community, our churches, and in our hearts.”

Ellis passed away peacefully at home Sat., June 8. He was 93 years old.

The youngest son of Rev. Dr. Robert Ellis, a Presbyterian Minister, Lawrence David Ellis was born in Jarratt, Ontario. He lived in a number of communities before settling in Manotick, where he spent his entire adult life. On June 20, 1953, he married Gwen Kemp. She predeceased him in 2014.

He is survived by two children, Susan (the Rev. Mark McLennan), Woodstock ON, and Brian (Catherine), Oxford Station ON, and granddaughter Destiny.

Ellis served as Budget Control Officer at Algonquin College for many years, and later worked in Human Resources. He served as an elder at Knox Presbyterian Church, Manotick for many years. He also enjoyed his membership at Manotick United Church in recent years.

“How fitting a memorial service for Larry, the consummate storyteller, is a time for us to be sharing stories of his life and the extraordinary person Larry was,” said Reverand Paul Whynacht.

The first thing people noticed about him, Rev Whynacht said, was his smile.

“His whole face and even his whole body shone with a joy that he felt when he smiled at someone,” Rev. Whynacht said. “That open and honest and genuine smile showed up every time he met someone he liked.

“I think everyone here, and others who couldn’t be here, were amazed at Larry’s authenticity,” Rev. Whynacht added. “He was open, sincere, loving, and he gave to the people and the world around him. How could anyone with an open heart not fall in love with him.

“He’s been the heartbeat of our community for decades, and he will live on in our hearts.”

The Rev. Mark McLennan, who is married to Larry Ellis’s daughter Susan, spoke about becoming part of the Ellis family and Larry’s son-in-law.

“Larry was a numbers guy always,” Rev. McLennan said after mentioning that Larry worked with numbers and was a budget control officer at Algonquin College. “Brian remembered when he bought his first car and Larry was with him. And the salesman was busy tapping away on a calculator and figuring out all the extra bits that go with buying a car and Larry had it worked out in his head and told him what the total was long before he had it punched in.

“He could also add up a grocery bill before the cashier could tap it in or scan it in. Even when he got bored or distracted, he would count things.”

Rev. McLennan talked about the first time he visited the Ellis family and met Larry.

“Larry was in the yard, and the first thing he said to me, and I didn’t take it personally, was ‘when are you going back to work?’ From that day on I was part of Larry’s family.”

Rev. McLennan also talked about Larry’s love for Gwen, not only all their lives but particularly in her last five years when she was in poor health.

“His life was long, and full, and meaningful,” he said/ “There’s a Larry-sized hole in our family and in this community today.”

Manotick Messenger owner and longtime editor Jeff Morris spoke of Ellis’s contributions to the community, both as a historian and a volunteer.

Larry Ellis, right, gives Prime Minister Justin Trudeau a local history lesson at the Miller’s Oven.

His great passion was history – particularly Eastern Ontario and the area around Manotick. This led to the production of several history books on the area, and a regular column in the Manotick Messenger. As a result, he was considered the unofficial Town Historian in and around Manotick, and received several awards for his work, including the Distinguished Award for Civic Heritage, the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal, and the Diamond Jubilee Medal.

“Where would Manotick be without Larry’s selfless gift of history, his books, his stories, and his enthusiastic way of telling those stories?” Morris said. “What would the guided tours be like? What would the education program at Watson’s Mill be like? They would still exist. But they would just be like the histories of any other village or small town – the places that were never lucky enough to have a Larry Ellis.”

Morris also spoke about Ellis being a gifted writer whose work went beyond local history.

“As a writer, he also showed another side of himself,” Morris said. “He wrote about more than local history. He wrote about why the leaves change color in the fall. He wrote about the sounds of spring, or the beautiful smell of wood burning in a fireplace on a cold winter’s night. Larry just felt things and experienced things at a level most are incapable of.”

Morris also talked about how selfless and giving Ellis was, and how his involvement in the community and his friendships were driven by passion. He left both gifts and a legacy for everyone in the community and everyone he knew.

“The history that he provided us with is his gift to us,” Morris said. “But his legacy – his true legacy that we will all remember him by – was how he made all of us feel. Don’t you think of Larry and wonder ‘how I could be more like him’, and to have some of what he had that made him so happy and enthusiastic and great to be around and giving to the community he loved?

“You just have to do what Larry did. Always take a minute to look at the beautiful things and beautiful people around you.

“And most of all, Live your life heart first. That is the legacy he leaves for all of us.”

For those wishing, please consider a donation in Larry’s memory to the Canadian Cancer Society or ROSSS (Rural Ottawa South Support Services).