Phyllis Ann Hannah Ellis


February 23, 1938 — March 11, 2016

Ellis obitPhyllis Ann Hannah Ellis, 78, of St. Louis Park, Minnesota passed away on March 11, 2016 in Ambler, Pennsylvania. Phyllis was born on February 23, 1938 in Port Arthur, Texas to Thomas Cortez Hannah and Helen Wallis Hannah. She grew up in Port Arthur and Ft. Worth, Texas and attended Fisk University, Nashville, Tennessee where she graduated in 1959 with a Bachelor of Arts degree.

After graduating Fisk, she attended Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri and received her master’s degree in social work. In 1962, Phyllis married her college sweetheart, Cassius Marcellus Clay Ellis, III, MD, Captain, U.S. Army, retired, who was working as an intern at Homer G. Phillips in St. Louis, Missouri. They gave birth to their first son, Thomas Scott Ellis. A year later, Dr. Ellis served in Nuremberg, Germany where their second son, Clay Ellis, was born.

The family lived in Germany for two years. In 1967, they moved to Ft. Snelling, Minnesota, where Dr. Ellis worked at the VA Hospital and then completed his surgical residency at the University of Minnesota. They later moved to St. Louis Park, where their two daughters, Lynn Ellis Taylor and Susan Ellis, were born.

Phyllis dedicated her life to her family and her many passions including philanthropic, education, civic, cultural, and social activities in the Twin Cities community.

Phyllis served a three-year term on the University of Minnesota Hospital Board of Governors. She also served on the Board of Governors of St. Mary’s Junior College; on the Board of Trustees of Minneapolis Children’s Medical Center; as chairperson of the St. Louis Park Human Rights Commission; regional president of the auxiliary to the National Medical Association; and president of the Hennepin Medical Society. Phyllis also was a volunteer at Minneapolis Children’s Hospital serving faithfully for many years.

Phyllis had a love for theater and arts; she served on the board of Children’s Theaters and was actively involved in Penumbra and Mixed Blood theaters.

She also was actively involved in the democratic process and education. She formed the organization Options, Inc. with a group of parents who wanted to increase diversity and change the educational structure in grades K through 12. She served as president of the Parent Teacher Association in St. Louis Park. Also, Phyllis was an active member of the Twin Cities chapter of Jack and Jill and coordinated activities for all four of her children.

Phyllis was the co-founder of the Minneapolis St. Paul Chapter of The Links, Inc. and served as chapter president, vice president, and chairperson of numerous committees including: National Trends & Services; Publicity; Membership; Nominating; Scholarship and Debutante Cotillion.

She was a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority and was initiated at Pi Chapter at Fisk University in 1957. She was a member of the Twin Cities graduate chapter of Delta Phi Omega.

Phyllis was a charter member of the Minneapolis St. Paul Chapter of the Girl Friends and as a Life Member served with distinction. She also was a member of the Civic Cultural Club (CC Club), the Sterling Club and the Woman’s Club of Minneapolis.

In addition to her community involvement, Phyllis had many hobbies including bowling, bridge club and painting. She was a very generous, caring and loving person who cherished life and enjoyed spending time and socializing with loved ones and friends. She especially loved to spend time with her children and grandchildren over the holidays and always liked traveling and vacationing in Hilton Head, South Carolina, New Orleans, Louisiana and San Francisco, California.

Phyllis is survived by her four children, T. Scott Ellis, Clay Ellis, Lynn Ellis Taylor and Susan Ellis; daughters-in-law Chantel Ellis and Lisa Ellis; son-in-law Stephen Taylor; four grandchildren Hannah, Leah, Charles and Nathanial; and first cousins Dianne Hemphill McDonald and Nathan L. Hemphill. She was preceded in death by her late husband, Dr. Cassius Ellis, III.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be sent to:

The Phyllis Hannah Ellis Annual Scholarship Fund at Fisk University
c/o Sheila Armour Smith
Director of Planned Giving and Scholarships
Fisk University
1000 17th Ave. North
Nashville, TN 37208

Questions should be directed to, 615-329-8710 or 615-300-5074.

Friday, March 18, 2016
Viewing – 6 – 8 PM

Estes Funeral Chapel,

2210 Plymouth Ave. No.,

Minneapolis, MN, 55411



Saturday, March 19, 2016

Funeral Service – 11 AM

St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral

519 Oak Grove St,

Minneapolis, MN 55403