William Kenneth Ellis

February 21, 1940June 11, 2021

William Kenneth Ellis, 81, known as Ken to family and friends, passed away peacefully at his home surrounded by loved ones on June 11, 2021 following a brave battle with cancer.

Born on February 21, 1940 in Cork, Ireland, the middle of five children of William Young and Eleanor Adeline Ellis, he grew up on a dairy farm overlooking Cork Harbor. He attended High School at Midleton College and graduated from Faraday House Engineering College in London with a Bachelor’s Degree in Electrical Engineering followed by a Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering and Industrial Administration from Aston University, Birmingham, UK.

He met Valerie, the love of his life, at a dance in beautiful Kinsale, Ireland and they married on June 21, 1967.

He worked for General Electric Co., UK as a site engineer at power plants in Europe and the Middle East in charge of installation and commissioning. Following this, he joined Gulf Oil Company, Ireland as Manager of Engineering and Operations at Gulf Oil Terminal, Bantry, in scenic southwest Ireland. Gulf gave him the opportunity to move to the USA with his wife and three children where he first held positions in Philadelphia and Houston. In 1985, after the merger of Gulf Oil with Chevron, he assumed a position in New Orleans with Chevron Pipeline, managing pipeline projects in the lower Mississippi River and Deepwater Gulf of Mexico.

Ken was heavily involved in his community in New Orleans and was active in Kiwanis, his church, and his country club. He also refereed for children’s soccer games for many years. As is easy to do, he and Valerie fell in love with the city’s rich history, food, and music, and loved attending the French Quarter and Jazz Festivals.

He was affectionally known as the “fix-it man” to many, and was the King of Do-It-Yourself projects, even more so upon his retirement in 2005. He then devoted much of his time and energy to Aurora United Methodist Church, where he held many positions, including Head Trustee, and devoted himself to restoring the church after damage from Hurricane Katrina. He also helped with many projects at Aurora Country Club.

Ken and Valerie moved to The Woodlands, Texas in 2015 to be closer to their eldest daughter and her children. He became very active in the senior programs at The Woodlands United Methodist Church, and loved to attend his granddaughter’s soccer games, this time as a spectator, not a referee.

He was a spiritual man who was deep in his faith. He enjoyed playing tennis with friends young and old and was a gentleman to all. As he became less active, reading and avidly following his favorite sports teams (particularly the Saints) began occupying more of his time. He enjoyed the fellowship of friends and is remembered fondly as a gentle, caring, helpful neighbor always willing to lend a hand and share his knowledge. His children and seven grandchildren were the delight of his life.

Ken is survived by his wife of 54 years, Valerie Barkman Ellis, their three children: Caroline Ellis Kauppinen, Nicola Ellis Cloutier (husband Peter), Andrew Ellis (wife Nicole), seven grandchildren: Julianna Kauppinen, Cole Kauppinen, Janey Kauppinen, Briggs Cloutier, Adeline Cloutier, Molly Ellis, and Liam Ellis, three brothers: Edward Ellis, George Ellis, and John Ellis, sister Elizabeth Hanna, close cousin George Good, and many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his father and mother.

A celebration of life will be held in The Robb Chapel at The Woodlands United Methodist Church on June 23, 2021 at 2pm, with a reception to follow in Jones Library. The family asks that in lieu of flowers, donations be made in Ken’s name to the MD Anderson Cancer Center.


  • Celebration of Life

    Wednesday, June 23, 2021


William Kenneth Ellis

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Glenna and Ed Wandling

June 23, 2021

We were so fortunate to have Ken sing with our Goldenaires. He had a lovely voice and was gracious to share his time with us even when he was not feeling well. His determination to beat the cancer was an inspiration to us all.

He was a gracious, intellectual and gentle man with a great sense of humor. We were honored to know him and will miss him!

Mark Neeb

June 21, 2021

It was my pleasure to worship and serve with Ken for years at Aurora UMC in New Orleans. I looked up to Ken and admired the way he balanced strong convictions with kindness and a readiness to help regardless of the task at hand. Valerie, I’m so sorry to hear that the Lord has called him home already. I look forward to seeing him there.

Linda Henderson

June 20, 2021

My sympathy to Valerie and family on the loss of their husband and father. Ken was an amazing man - strong in spirit and strong in his faith. He soldiered on through years of cancer and treatments, never giving up or feeling sorry for himself. He shared his love of music with the church and community by singing with the Goldenaires for the past several years. He will be greatly missed!

John Kuehn

June 18, 2021

My condolences to Valerie and all of Ken's family. He was my first boss at Chevron, firstly as a summer intern, then for my first permanent job. He was a big reason I started my career there, and am still there. I will always be grateful for Ken's kindness, mentorship, clarity, integrity, and dry sense of humor. He was also a master of his profession and a fine teacher. It was my privilege and honor to call him my boss and my friend.

David Singleton

June 17, 2021

Ken was an active member of our Kiwanis Club in New Orleans. Among other activities, he was our group leader for our annual program of renovating/painting local houses for folks who were unable to do it themselves. Ken led by example, expertise, and character. It was easy to be motivated when one works with such a leader.

Ken would also at times give our "Joke of the Week" at our Kiwanis meetings. We loved his dry sense of humor as he told the jokes with his slight Irish accent.

We will miss Ken. It was our pleasure and to our benefit to know him.

David Singleton

Nita Williams

June 17, 2021

I had the pleasure of working with Mr. E as I called him for Chevron Pipe Line. Learned a lot from him when working projects he was in charge of and he was a blessing to be around. I will keep his family in my prayers. Rest in Paradise Mr. E.

Elena White

June 15, 2021

Ken Ellis, you will be missed, by your adoring wife, family and friends. As they say, God picks the best flowers to take to heaven. Your love of family, dedication to work and tennis, your battle against cancer are testimonies of the essence of you. Rest in peace.
Jim and Elena White ⚘

Eric Broussard

June 14, 2021

So sorry to hear about Ken's passing Valerie and family. Ken was my first boss with Chevron and was the absolute best. He was also a great friend and mentor. I really appreciate Ken and Valerie's support when Karen passed also.