Submitted by his wife
A volunteer fireman with the Loretto Fire Department‚ Jason Lee Ellis died on May 28‚ 2003‚ as a result of injuries sustained in an accident during training at the State Fire Academy. Only thirty-years old at the time of his death‚ Jason touched the lives of many people in a very profound way during his short life. Public service was noble to him‚ and as both a volunteer fireman and a full time law enforcement officer‚ he exemplified the word service like few others can emulate.
Jason was born to Brenda and Woody Ellis‚ of Loretto‚ Tennessee‚ just two days before Christmas in 1973. Much like being a Christmas gift that year to his then six-year-old sister‚ Kim‚ he lived his entire life that way — as a gift to other people — always giving‚ always sharing.
He attended Loretto High School where he was very active in the music‚ drama‚ and sports programs. Like life‚ Jason tackled acting with gusto and threw himself into several plays‚ including the lead role in Tom Sawyer‚ a drama which garnered rave reviews. And in addition to being awarded a music scholarship his graduating year‚ he also was a very valuable member of the school’s tennis team.
At only nineteen years of age‚ he began his public safety career with the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Department. Jason had the unique ability to excel in whatever job he was asked to do‚ so it’s no wonder that in less than ten years he had been promoted four times. Beginning work as a Corrections Officer‚ he also served as a Communications Officer‚ Patrol Officer‚ DARE Officer‚ and Training Officer Sergeant. By coming up through the ranks‚ even in a relatively short period of time‚ Jason offered those with whom he worked a very unique perspective — he fully understood the intricate details and duties of each position subordinate to his own; and as a supervisor‚ he readily identified and compensated for the weaknesses of others.
As a volunteer fireman‚ Jason just wanted to help. He joined the Loretto Fire Department‚ and he was the one you could immediately count on — to always be at the meetings or to complete the more undesirable‚ menial tasks of equipment maintenance without being asked and without complaint — Jason simply epitomized service and sacrifice above self.
His death — so unexpected‚ so accidental — at such an early age sent shock waves throughout our community. The days and weeks after Jason’s death were so incredibly hard — they were the saddest days of my life‚ and I survived only with the concern‚ support‚ and prayers of my family‚ Jason’s family‚ and our many‚ many friends. Those first few days were a blur as I struggled to cope through the heavy fog of grief and sadness‚ but I met so many people whom Jason had touched. You see‚ if you knew Jason‚ you liked Jason — it was that simple — he never had an enemy‚ and he never met a stranger. Even though heartbroken and stricken with such grief‚ I marveled at the number of children from throughout the County who attended his memorial service; so many‚ in fact‚ we held it in the local high school gymnasium to accommodate all of those who wanted to bid their friend and role model farewell.
But Jason did not leave us altogether. I was three-months pregnant in May when Jason died‚ and six months later‚ looking down from his heavenly abode‚ Jason became the proud Daddy of a beautiful baby girl‚ Savannah Lee Ellis. I hope she always knows the kind‚ gracious‚ and wonderful man her Daddy was; although words can’t express what he means to me and our families‚ Jason had this unique‚ innate way of being very special to everyone he met‚ and he certainly made this world a better place for us all.