Dr. James Hargette Ellerbe

October 4, 1933November 18, 2021

Dr. James Hargette Ellerbe of Clayton died Thursday, November 18, 2021, at the age of 88. He was a loyal and faithful husband, and a loving and wise father who cherished his family and his church. Dr. Ellerbe was born in Rockingham, North Carolina on October 4, 1933. In 1956 he graduated from East Carolina College with dual bachelor’s degrees in social studies and English. It was at East Carolina College where he met his wife of more than sixty years, Helen Austin Ellerbe. He earned both a master’s degree and a doctorate in education from North Carolina State University. Before moving to Clayton, Ellerbe taught social studies and coached basketball in the Hopewell City Schools in Hopewell, Virginia where he was also a master teacher for student teachers. Around that same time, he served six months in the United States Army followed by eight years in the Army and Air Force Reserves. Ellerbe moved his family to Clayton in 1957 where he started working with the public schools in the community college system. During his public school career, Ellerbe served in numerous local and state positions, most notably as chairman of the North Carolina Textbook Commission, the Johnston County Board of Education and Superintendent of Johnston County Schools from 1980-1991. As Superintendent he helped coordinate several programs of which he was particularly proud, including a center for academically gifted students, an academic super bowl and programs for mentally and emotionally disabled children. In 1994, Ellerbe joined Campbell University where he served as Vice President for business and as Treasurer. While officially retiring from Campbell in 2005, he continued working with the School of Education as an adjunct instructor in the graduate program, a member of the Presidential Board of Advisors and secretary to the University’s Board of Trustees. During his tenure at Campbell, Dr. Ellerbe helped guide the university through a number of significant additions including the establishment of the Campbell Divinity School, the construction of new buildings for business, pharmacy research and athletics, and the renovation of the historic D. Rich Memorial Building. In 2011 Campbell University honored Dr. Ellerbe with the prestigious School of Education Lifetime Achievement Award. He loved being part of this Christian University where they begin programs with prayer, and where one was allowed to have a strong, personal relationship with God. Ellerbe was an active member of First Baptist Church of Clayton where he served in numerous leadership positions. In his spare time, he loved wood carving in his shop, making countless figurines, crosses and nativity scenes for his family and friends. He is survived by his wife, Helen Austin Ellerbe, daughter, Beth Ellerbe Hubbard (Robert), son, James Austin Ellerbe (Sarah), five grandchildren and three great-grand daughters. The memorial service will be held Sunday, November 21, 2021, at 3:00 PM at First Baptist Church, 411 N Fayetteville St, Clayton, North Carolina 27520, followed by visitation at 3:30 PM. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to Campbell University Opportunity Scholarship Fund or First Baptist Church of Clayton. Fond memories and expressions of sympathy may be shared at for the Ellerbe family. Arrangements are with McLaurin Funeral Home, Clayton.


  • Helen Austin Ellerbe, Wife
  • Beth Ellerbe Hubbard (Robert), Daughter
  • James Austin Ellerbe (Sarah), Son
  • Mr. Ellerbe leaves behind five grandchildren and three great-grandchildren to cherish his memory.


  • Memorial Service

    Sunday, November 21, 2021

  • Visitation

    Sunday, November 21, 2021


Dr. James Hargette Ellerbe

have a memory or condolence to add?

Sandra Johnson

November 25, 2021

So very sorry to read that Jim has passed. Helen you and your family are in my thoughts and prayers. Jim was one fine man and was a dear friend to Walter. He made a difference in so many people’s lives and was so well respected. He was one of Clayton’s finest!! My heart goes out to all the family.

Lois Driver

November 22, 2021

Beth and Mrs Ellerbe,
So sorry for your loss. I remember going over to play with Beth when y’all were still in the old neighborhood. He was always so nice. I know from experience that it is hard to lose your Daddy and I know how hard it is to lose a husband. I am praying that God helps you thru this time. I know he will be missed.

Valerie Dupree

November 21, 2021

Jim was love by everyone who knew him, especially everyone in my family and my Daddy thought the world of him. I will always remember his kindness and the ways he helped Mary Whitney at Campbell. He helped to set her up on the pathway that God had planned for her life by meeting her husband at Campbell and growing her musical talents. He made a difference in the lives of the people in Johnston County through our schools, First Baptist Church, Campbell university and many more places. Our world needs more Jim Ellerbes…We know that we will meet again some day, Our prayers are with you all!

Jeanette Bridgers

November 20, 2021

I work for Dr Ellerbe for the entire time that he was at Johnson county board of education. He was a man that was fair to all employees who worked for the children of Johnston county. He was friendly he was sincere in his devotion to public education. He will be greatly missed by all. My prayers are with his family during this difficult time.

Pat Duncan

November 20, 2021

Dear Helen, Beth, Jim and family…
My deepest condolences to you at this time in your life…Dr. Jim, was such a special person in all areas of Clayton and Johnston County…for sure he was a great role model for anyone. I’m very proud to say he was my friend. Love to each of you at this time…RIP Dr. Jim Ellerbe

Barbara A an

November 20, 2021

Wallace and I are so saddened by this news.
We are so blessed to have met you all and continue to keep you all in our hearts and prayers.

Joyce Davis

November 20, 2021

Helen & family, My condolences to your whole family at this time of loss. I have fond memories of Mr. Ellerbe when he was Superintendent of Johnston County Schools. He had a heart for the handicapped which won my heart (Leigh Ann Davis). May God grant your family peace at the time of loss.

Wanda Watkins

November 19, 2021

Dr. Ellerbe was a man I admired. He had such wisdom and always showed compassion for others. He was a tremendous leader and had a lasting impact at Campbell University. I will always cherish my fond memories of him and send my prayers and sympathy to the family.

Lee and Donna Barbee

November 19, 2021

So sorry to hear of Dr. Ellerbe's passing. Our thoughts and prayers are with your family during this difficult time.

Becky Brinson

November 19, 2021

To the Ellerbe family so sorry for your loss, praying for God's peace, comfort and strength to rest upon each of you. Mr. Ellerbe was a true gentleman, kind and gentle spirited. It was an honor to have known him, he will truly be missed.