MIAMI, Okla. – Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame sportswriter Jim Ellis is being honored on social media sites as a legend.
James “Jim” Franklin Ellis, 70, died Aug. 22 at Freeman Heath Center in Joplin.
”Legend” – “gentleman” – genuine” – “humble – and “never met anyone that didn’t like Jim” were just some of the tributes pouring in honoring the legendary newsman.
He was one of Miami’s favorite sons – right up there with Heisman Trophy winner Steve Owens.
Owens is quoted as saying “Jim Ellis is the best sportswriter in America. He never misquoted you and always told the real story,” according to a social media post on the Miami Wardogs Athletic’s page.
“He was a true Miamian and Wardog,” said Miami Mayor Bless Parker. “He loved Miami and he loved the people in Miami.
Elis was awarded a Mayoral Proclamation to honor his service to the community in 2017, a member of the Miami Athletics Hall of Fame in 2018, inducted into the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame in 2012 and the Oklahoma Eight-Man High School Football Hall of Fame in 2011.
“He loved covering all of our local events, but especially sporting events all over Ottawa County,” Parker said.
Ellis was the Miami News-Record Sports Editor since 1977. In those years he covered sporting events for every high school in the county and Northeastern A&M College sporting events.
He covered Little League baseball games and made 10-year-old players feel like rock stars. Some of those young boys went on to have stellar high school careers and Jim was there memorializing every touchdown, every homerun, every championship victory and a few disappointing losses along the way.
When an unbelievable tragedy would strike and a young athlete’s life was cut down in his prime, Jim would often write a very moving tribute story capturing the emotions of those drowning in grief.
“When he was inducted into the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame I wondered why it took so long,” said Cheryl Franklin, former publisher of the Miami News-Record. “Jim is a legend and needs to have a stadium named after him.”
“Jim was literally a one-man sports department.”Melinda Stotts, City of Miami Communications Manager and a former colleague
Working side by side at the Miami News-Record for many years, Stotts said she grew to love and admire Ellis not only as a colleague but as a close friend.
“There are good men, and there are great men of character, and our Jim was truly the hardest working reporter, so proud of our community, loved covering sports, and one of the nicest, kindest men of good character I have known and loved,” Stotts said.
“I have never known anyone more dedicated and driven,” said, Krista Duhon, another former News-Record colleague. “He loved Miami and he was a true Wardog.”
He will be missed, she said.
“To many he was known as a sportswriter for a small town newspaper, to me and many others this man was a legend.”.Tony Holden, boxing promoter.
During boxing events, Jim would spend his own money to cover the event for the Miami News-Record, Holden said.
“He would crowd in front of some of the nation’s top reporters and he did it with ownership holding his recorder and shouting out questions,” Holden said. “He believed the Miami News-Record was just as important as the New York Times.”
Holden said there were times he was given interviews nobody else could get.
“During my sports writing days at The Oklahoman, our paths would occasionally cross at state tournaments in various sports, when Ottawa County teams would be playing, or when I would cover Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College events,” said Murray Evans, Public Relations Strategist at Koch Comm.
“Jim was a huge booster of Miami and I deeply appreciated that about him,” Evans said.
His passing will leave a hole in the world of small-town newspapers and in the community that he embraced fully, he said.
Prior to the News-Record, Ellis covered sports for the Sequoyah County Times from 1975 to 1977.
Born and raised in Miami, he is a 1971 graduate of Miami High School, a 1973 graduate of Northeastern Oklahoma A&M and a 1977 graduate of Northeastern State University.
He is a member of the Oklahoma Press Association Quarter Century Club.
Mary Ellis, his wife, preceded him in death in 2016. He is survived by a daughter, Brittany Ellis Alfred.
Services are pending and have been placed in the care of Brown-Winters Funeral Home and Cremation Service in Miami.