WOODSTOCK – Family and friends of Ellis Ellingwood gathered Wednesday to express their gratitude for his life of service. Ellingwood, who died Sunday at the age of 96, was a member of the West Paris Fire Department and served the community in many capacities throughout his life.

Firefighters from Paris, West Paris, Greenwood and Woodstock, as well as members of Tri-Town Rescue and the Maine State Police, joined more than 100 people who attended Ellingwood’s funeral services at Andrews Funeral Home. West Paris Fire Department Lt. Clay Wilson shared his memories of Ellingwood.

Ellingwood had retired when Wilson joined the force, but he still came to the fire station nearly every day. Wilson said that when he went to his first fire, he and another new firefighter were asked to refill a truck’s water tanks. Both nervous and unsure, they drove the firetruck to the station. When they got there “the bay doors opened and there stood the tallest man I’d ever seen,” Wilson said. “It was Ellis. He said You boys want water? Pull er in.’

“It didn’t really matter to him if he was the chief or if he was the floor sweeper,” Wilson said. If Ellingwood saw a job that needed to be done, he’d do it.

After he retired as fire chief in his early 80s, Ellingwood would walk to the station every morning and every evening to raise and lower the flag.

“It was a daily ritual,” Wilson said. After moving to South Paris in 2000, Ellingwood visited the South Paris Fire Department, sweeping out the bays every day, Wilson said.

West Paris firefighter Douglas Penley remembered that after his retirement, Ellingwood would often respond to a fire as quickly as the firefighters did. “Even in his older years, when the pager went off Ellis would be at the station with the doors open.”

Ellingwood’s son, Jerry, spoke about serving with the Fire Department as a teenager. Working with his father, he said, he learned that “you don’t need to seek to be elevated.” By living a life of service, those you serve will elevate you, he said.

Ellingwood’s remains were transported from the funeral home to the cemetery on the 1939 firetruck that he helped to build and maintain when he first became a firefighter. The truck led a procession that included four other firetrucks, an ambulance and police cruiser. The family requests that memorials in Ellingwood’s honor be donated to either the West Paris Fire Department or Stephens Memorial Hospital.

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