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Ellis Wade Hitzing, “Mr. Ellis,” died October 18, 2011. He would have been 97 years old next month.

Mr. Hitzing was born on a ranch in South Dakota in 1914, and his family then moved to Ekalaka, Mont.

In 1926 the family moved to Florida and finally settled in Jacksonville.

He had to quit school in the 8th grade to help support his family. He started by delivering groceries and ended up buying the grocery store.

During WW II he served in the Army Air Corp. After the war he spent most of his work career in the auto parts business operating warehouses in Jacksonville, Tampa, Orlando, Tallahassee and Reedsville, Ga.

In 1973 he bought the EWH Ranch just outside Alachua. He never retired, and until his death, he was active in the operation of the ranch.

He was married to the love of his life, Mabel Whitehead Hitzing, for almost 69 years, until her death in September 2009. They had two sons, Wade Hitzing, 70, and Bert Hitzing, 66.

Ellis was preceded in death by 10 of his brothers and sisters, Thelma Crump Wilson of New Kent, Va; Buford Hitzing; A. C. “Al” Hitzing; Michel “Shell” Hitzing; Theodore “Teddy” Hitzing and Lovel Hitzing of Fort Myers; Florence Allen and Dewey Hitzing of Jacksonville, Lavina Cox and Jesse Corley of Keystone Heights.  His sister, Mary Ann Soud, of Keystone Heights, survives him.

In addition to his two sons, Ellis also enjoyed sharing his life as OPA for five grandchildren, Julia Hartlieb of Fort Myers; Hays Hitzing and Christopher Davey of Columbus, Ohio; Michael Davey of Valdosta, Ga.; and Julie Johnston of Lakeland.  He was also OPA for 10 great grandchildren: Kinsey, Emmie and Abby Johnston; Lucy and Charlie Hartlieb; Hannah, Benjamin and Leo Davey; and Albert “Bertie” and Lyda Hitzing.

Ellis was a lifelong member of the Baptist church. For 40-plus years he and Mabel were members of the North Main Street Baptist Church in Jacksonville. While in Jacksonville he served for more than 25 years on the Board of the Baptist Children’s Home. When they moved to Alachua they joined the Santa Fe Baptist Church where he served as a Deacon.

The family would like to express their sincere appreciation to Ethel Hart of Alachua for years of loving care for both Mabel and Ellis.

Ellis will be sorely missed. He was an extraordinary man who led a life of hard work and accomplishment.

Funeral services were conducted at 10:30 a.m., Saturday, Oct. 22 at Santa Fe Baptist Church, 7505 NW County Rd. 236, Alachua, Fla.  Visitation was Friday, Oct. 21, 5-7 p.m. at Evans-Carter Funeral Home, 220 N. Main, High Springs, Fla.  Interment was Saturday, Oct. 22, at Evergreen Cemetery, Jacksonville, Fla.