Daniel Ellis, K-12 music teacher at Kingston Schools, passed away last Wednesday at age 60.
Jasper School District – which has campuses in Jasper, Kingston and Oark – posted the news on Facebook Wednesday morning.
“The Jasper School District is saddened to learn of the sudden and unexpected passing of one of our Kingston teachers, Mr. Ellis. This is a difficult time for our district and it will be an extremely emotional week for our students and staff, as Mr. Ellis was loved by many,” the Facebook message said.
“Counselors will be available as long as needed to provide extra support to our students and staff on the Kingston Campus. ...”
Kingston Principal Seth Villines said Ellis was in his first year at the school.
“He was just looking for a change and we were somebody that had an opening and he came here and he just fit in,” Villines said about Ellis coming from the Searcy County School District in Marshall.
“We got blessed with a good teacher.”
Ellis was a native of Plainview, Texas, with a degree in vocal performance from Lubbock Christian University.
His wife, Lisa, told The Record that Daniel Ellis “was larger than life.” She wrote on Facebook Tuesday, “He’s gone ... God needed him and he is whole again. I am brokenhearted. Missing him already. ...”
Lisa Ellis posted on Facebook that the coroner told her Daniel died of a massive stroke.
Lisa Ellis is owner of Ellis Acres Photography in Kingston.
Lisa Ellis said she and Daniel knew each other “since we were born.” Their mothers were best friends. Lisa and Daniel were married for 14 years.
“We had come back together after 30 years of [not] seeing each other,” she said.
“Talked on the phone for 3 months and got married a week later,” she said. “Reconnected on June 25, 2005, married on Aug 25th. I was in Chattanooga [Tenn.] and he was in Plainview TX where he grew up.”
Lisa Ellis said she quit her job, went to Texas, and they married.
Concerning an article about her husband, Lisa said, “I want it to be real and do him justice. He didn’t think he deserved it but he does and he just was a messenger of God, it wasn’t deliberate it was just who he was, genuine.”
Daniel Ellis had two sons, Daniel of New Mexico and James of Colorado.
Villines said Daniel Ellis made an impact in Kingston, although he only taught there this school year.
“He was a great teacher. He hadn’t been here very long, but he was loved by all of his students and he was a member of our family,” Villines said.
“He had been adopted into the community and was someone who was doing great things here.”
Villines said Ellis had a variety of roles at the school.
“He was the music guy, the singing [guy], anything you needed him to do he did it,” he said. “He had kids he was teaching them to line dance in some classes, sing in others. He was just a good employee.”
Many people responded to Lisa Ellis’ posts on Facebook, announcing her husband’s passing.
Kingston High senior Taylor Cott on Facebook wrote, “Mr. Ellis, one of the most positive, genuine, and funny people I knew. (I mean who else would dress up in a Santa costume & let little ones sit on their lap?) ... He has such a positive impact on all the students and teachers at Kingston High School, he was loved by so many. Thank you for everything you did for us, Mr. Ellis. Your legacy will live on forever in our small, loving town.”
Leah Weaver wrote, “Lisa Ellis, your husband made such a huge impact on our children. He will sorely be missed!! He sparked an interest and love in their hearts for music and instruments.”
The Huntsville High School Facebook page last Wednesday posted, “Huntsville High School is saddened to hear of the loss of Kingston Schools’ music teacher, Mr. Ellis.
“We would like to extend our condolences to our pals at Kingston High School and to Mr. Ellis’ family and friends. Much love to you all.”
Villines said Ellis’ attitude made him special.
“He was a man that every day we had him up here he had a smile on his face, ready to go with kids,” Villines said.
“There wasn’t a single time that I ever saw him when he wasn’t smiling, trying to get kids in on something. Sometimes kids didn’t even know that theirselves, that they were enjoying, whether it was line dancing, playing the piano, singing, whatever. He was always up for those kids. He loved them.”
Villines said Ellis “was a young soul. He was always having fun. I think that kept him young.”