In Loving Memory…

Frank R. Ellis

Frank Rodney Ellis, 97, of Smithton, died Tuesday, June 25, 2019, at Sylvia G. Thompson Residence Center.

He was born September 19, 1921, in Sedalia, son of Robert Byron and Georgia (Rayburn) Ellis. He was a 1939 graduate of Smith-Cotton High School and was a 60 minute player on the varsity football team playing both offense and defense.  He was shy person at the time; but sure got over that; and was later known as a jokester and Teller of tall tales.  He always loved to read on many topics

After high school he drove a regional soft drink distribution route and after enlisting for WW2 he initially taught other recruits to drive 2.5 ton 6×6 trucks.   That company then served in the United States Army Quartermaster Corps on the Pioneer Trail as the Alcan highway was being constructed and in Alaska. While in service he gained the rough equivalent of a college education by using U.S.  self-study courses.

On June 11, 1944, in Sedalia, he married Helen Estelle (Engler), who after 74 years of marriage preceded him in death on June 27, 2018.

After honorable discharge Frank worked for the Missouri Pacific Railroad as a sheet metal Apprentice, pipefitting steam locomotives; then as a Carman until full railroad retirement when the shops were closed.  He also owned and operated a sheet metal and HVAC business. He was a master craftsman in most trades, including carpentry, plumbing, basic electricity, & welding. He loved to share his skills and was an excellent teacher; including teaching sheet metal Pattern Layout at the community college.  He also volunteered much HVAC labor to Habitat for Humanity and in restoring several churches after fire damage.   His work was recognizable by other tradesmen as being distinctive in its design and workmanship.  He also invented and fabricated several new tools and accessories.

He was a member of First Christian Church since marriage and served many years on the board and the property committee.  He was recognized as the FCC Man of the Year in 1997.  In many Christmas seasons Frank was a Salvation Army bell ringer.

Together, Frank and Helen enjoyed and roller skating in their early years and big band dancing later. He was a sketch artist; and loved kids and small pets.   They adopted several abandoned small animals which would come to their rural place for food and shelter. He enthusiastically supported Scouting, dirt track racing at old Thunderbowl Speedway and Rod’s kart racing and hot-rodding the family’s ’55 Chevy.

Surviving are his son and daughter-in-law, Rod & Linda (Schnakenberg) Ellis of Pettis County and Overland Park, KS; three grandchildren: Jason, Jeremy & Jessica, all of Houston and Katy, Texas; and seven great-grandchildren in Texas.

In addition to his wife and parents, he was preceded in death by two sisters and one brother and others in the extended family.

Funeral services will be held at 10:30 a.m. Monday, July 1, 2019, at First Christian Church, with the Rev. Dr. Chad McMullin officiating.

The family will receive friends from 9:30 a.m. until service time Monday at the church.

Burial will be in Memorial Park Cemetery, with military honors presented by the U.S. Army.

Memorials are suggested to First Christian Church or Sedalia Animal Shelter.

Arrangements are in the care of Heckart Funeral Home.


  1. My name is Bruce Coward, I live in Greenville, N.C. To the Ellis family and friends for “Frank” (Mr. Ellis and Ms. Helen) I share the pain of grief with you.

    Frank became my mentor in 1978 when I was an apprentice for Missouri Pacific Rail in Sedalia shops. He and Ms. Helen became my parents while being away from home.

    Words cannot explain how much they impacted my life even until this day. Frank had a way of making me feel special, I would marvel the way he and Ms. Helen enjoyed life together but still had time for a stranger.

    They were examples of what I thought a marriage should be. I now enjoy my wife of 37 years because of them. Because of Frank taking his time to talk and teach me so many things, that I have passed down to my children and grandchildren.

    I thank God for putting Frank and Ms. Helen in my life. And Rod, thank you for looking out for our parents. They are truly missed on this earth, but their seeds of kindness will continue to flower for all that knew them.

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