Frank “Pinky” Ellis was born in Casper WY, February 20, 1929, to Irish immigrants Frank and Brigid Nunan Ellis. His father came from Ireland, sponsored by an uncle who owned a Wyoming sheep ranch. In 1927 Frank returned to Ireland seeking a bride, met and married Bridie. . .by ship and train they arrived in barren Casper, their new home – promising to return to Ireland in a few years. Pinky grew up in an Irish community with Sunday gatherings of 21 Irish 1st cousins! He passed in Casper October 26, 2022, age 93+2/3.
A graduate of St. Anthony’s Catholic School, Natrona County High School (1946), Casper Junior College (1948), and University of WY (1950) with a BS in Agriculture, Pinky was a member of Alpha Tau Omega.
Pinky and Jackie Nott were married in Green River WY in 1955. Theirs was a well-matched sixty-seven year marriage, highlighted by children Sean, Brendan, and Maura, and herds of border collies.
Summers were spent learning the sheep business. At 15 “Frankie” was in charge of a herd of sheep on the Big Horn summer range. For 57 years he trailed herds of sheep and later sheep and cattle 80 miles (and back) to the summer range. After Frank Sr.’s death in 1955, Pinky and his mother incorporated Ellis Sheep Company – ESC -- and ran the ranch. Brother TJ and later son Brendan became partners. Tough years of bad weather and high interest rates are documented in the Washington Post Magazine article “End of the Trail,” written by a niece who traveled with the Ellis men on the last trail.
Pinky served his community well. His 35 -year association with Rotary enriched his life, and Liar’s Club gave him a special circle of friends. Membership and responsibilities on boards: Natrona County Airport, NC Public Library, Casper Historic Preservation, Casper City Councilman, NC Commissioner. He was proud that during his political time the Events Center, Community Rec Center, Ag Resource Center were built.
Twenty-five years on Casper Mountain Ski Patrol with two sons & one grandson following. As a committee member of the recently published Casper Mountain Ski History book, he became a great oral history interviewer.
As a founding member of the National Historic Trails Interpretative Center and Foundation board member, he was recognized in 2022 at the NHTIC 20th anniversary. State & National officer of the Oregon/California Trails Association, and membership in Fort Caspar Museum, City of Casper Preservation Commission, Natrona and Wyoming State Historical Society, Wyoming Council for the Humanities, Preserve Wyoming, Wyoming Woolgrowers, Wyoming Stock Growers kept him interested over the years.
Always willing to share his voluminous knowledge of history, he became the go-to-guy when local history questions arose. Authors and experts called for stories and fact checking. Visitors from Ireland toured Wyoming homesteads guided by Pinky telling stories of their WY relatives. “Tales of Old Tymers” was a favorite presentation with Pinky and two of his cohorts regaling audiences with yarns – some true and some not-so – of old ranch and town characters.
Frank “Pinky” Ellis was proud to be a member of St. Patrick’s Catholic Church.
He is survived by his wife Jackie, children: Sean (Barb), Casper; Brendan, Casper; Maura (John) Youle, Durango CO; three outstanding grandchildren: SeanO (Kerstin) Ellis , Casper; Bridie Youle, Jack Youle, Durango CO; much loved great grandchildren Nevin and Neils Ellis. Other survivors include sister Ruth Ellis Schulte, sisters-in-law Sally Ann Ellis, Ellen Nott; several nieces and nephews.
Passed before him: Irish grandparents he never met; his father Frank (1955); mother Brigid (1988); sister Maureen (1997), brother TJ (2003), and a profusion of friends and admirers of all ages.
Memorials to honor Pinky’s memory, if you wish, may be made to Meals on Wheels; Central Wyoming Hospice, or a charity of choice.
Visitation will be held from 6-7 PM on Thursday, Nov. 3, 2022 at Bustard & Jacoby Funeral Home, 600 CY Ave. in Casper followed by a Rosary starting at 7PM at the funeral home. A Funeral Mass will be held at 10:30 AM on Friday, Nov. 4, 2022 at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Casper.