Willa Jean Ellis, 87, of Fort Scott, passed away peacefully Monday afternoon, January 22, 2018, at her home. She was born March 25, 1930, in Rich Hill, Missouri, the daughter of Howard and Gertie (Williams) Marlin.
She married her childhood sweetheart Danny Ellis February 8, 1948, in Nevada, Missouri.
Willa was a beloved mother and grandmother; a devoted wife and trusted friend to many.
Together she and her husband were strong supporters of the Fort Scott community including The Beacon, Ellis Family Performing Arts Center, and Ellis Park.
In the early 1960’s Willa and Danny started Midwestern Distribution with just three trucks. It eventually grew to 1,000 trucks and employed over 2,000 people. They sold the company to Leaseway Transportation in 1981 and started Multi Service Corp., a trucking and aviation credit card which is currently the largest aviation credit card in the world.
In 1998 Willa and Danny started the Ellis Foundation after the death of their daughter, Kathy Ellis-Adriance, The foundation has awarded over 4,000 scholarships and currently supports 738 students in college.
The Ellis Foundation will celebrate twenty years this June 2018 and has awarded over twenty-million dollars.
In addition to her husband Danny, Willa is survived by her son, Chris Daniel Ellis and wife Cathy, of Louisburg, Kansas; eight grandchildren, Daniel Marlin Ellis, Joshua James Shaffer, Christopher Charles Ellis, Nathan Cole Ellis, Sarah Freeman Spray, Sybil Claire Ramstad, Brooke Adriance Cade, and Erin Blaire Adriance; and ten great-grandchildren, Olive Madison Ellis, Emory Parker Ellis, Freeman Andrew Spray, Ellis Nicole Spray, Gabriel Rose Spray, Bennett John Ramstad, Davis Matthew Ramstad, Vivian Faye Shaffer, Leo Henry Cade, and Finlay George Cade.
Willa was preceded in death by her parents, a sister, Wanda June Taylor, and her daughter, Kathy Lyn Ellis-Adriance.
The family will receive friends Friday evening, January 26, 2018, 6:00-7:00 p.m. at the funeral home.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Ellis Foundation for Memorial Scholarships and left in the care of the Konantz-Cheney Funeral Home, 15 W. Wall Street, PO Box 309, Fort Scott, KS 66701. Condolences may be submitted to the online guestbook at konantz-cheney.com.