On behalf of the Ruston Rotary Club, the Ruston-Lincoln Chamber of Commerce announces that Wilbert “Coach” Ellis will be awarded the Bill Best Humanitarian Award for 2021.
Wilbert Ellis, better known as Coach Ellis, has devoted a lifetime to making lives better for others throughout Lincoln Parish and beyond through unselfish service on many levels. For his decades of giving of himself to others, Coach Ellis has been selected to be honored with the Bill Best Humanitarian Award during the 2022 Chamber of Commerce Banquet.
Professionally, Ellis had a forty-year tenure as an assistant and head baseball coach at Grambling State University. He has been recognized many times for his achievements on the baseball diamond, being inducted into several sports halls of fame and numerous recognitions by his conference and the National Collegiate Athletic Association. He also received the Robert E. Russ Award in 2016 for his philanthropic contributions within the community.
Ellis’ professional achievements are amazing; however, he was selected to receive the Humanitarian Award based on his on the field and off the field mentoring of others and service to the Lincoln Parish Community. Fifteen years after retirement, he is more active than ever, pouring his passion into enriching others in Lincoln Parish and beyond.
Thousands of youths have benefited from the years of free baseball clinics he has conducted. Each clinic includes not only baseball skills, but Ellis places a strong emphasis on life skills and ethics with each young person. He is often sought as a motivational speaker for a variety of youth groups and adults as well.
His involvement in the humanitarian interest in Lincoln Parish is long and stretches across a broad range of service activities. The following is just a sample of his community involvement, past and present. Ellis served as chairman of the Ruston Park and Recreation Board, vice chairman of the Lincoln Health System, past President and member of the Board of Directors for Lincoln General Hospital, Board of Directors for Alcohol and Drug Abuse Program, Grambling State University National Alumni Association, Planning and Zoning Committee for the City of Ruston, Ruston 21 Planning Committee, Lincoln Parish Biracial Committee, President of the Friends of the Eddie Robinson Museum, a member of the D.A.R.T (Domestic Abuse Resistance Team) Men Standing Strong Campaign, he helped oversee the construction of Grambling State’s new baseball stadium and currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Boys and Girls Club of North Louisiana. One of Ellis’ most cherished activities is partnering with his life-long friend, James Davison to visit with and give poinsettias to those in nursing homes and hospitals to remind them someone cares.
When notified he had been selected, Ellis said, “I thank God for giving me the strength each day to serve others. This is something I will cherish and I appreciate being chosen.”
Ellis said, “my family, including my deceased mother and father, the student body, the rest of the Grambling family and of course, some of the finest baseball players ever to play the game have made all of my accomplishments possible.“ Ellis commented that he has a great love of sports, but admits that his main concern is the building of character in young people through higher education.
During the pandemic he has encouraged the use of masks and getting vaccinated. He estimates about 200 people from Lincoln Parish and beyond have gotten vaccinated after personal conversations encouraging them to protect themselves as well as family and friends.
Ellis is a member of Zion Traveler Baptist Church where he is a Deacon and chairs the church’s Trustees Board.
Ellis is married to Bettye Williams Ellis, and they have one daughter, Shree Yvette, three grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
This award was established in 1997 by the Ruston-Lincoln Chamber of Commerce to recognize a local citizen for their outstanding contributions to humanitarian interests, unselfish giving, and service to others. In 2006, The Ruston Rotary Club asked to take on the responsibility of administering this auspicious program while changing the name to the “Bill Best Humanitarian Award” to honor one of Ruston’s outstanding businessperson and “Ambassador of Ruston,” living the Rotary motto of “Service above Self.”
The award will be presented at the Chamber’s 102nd Annual Banquet, title sponsored by Northern Louisiana Medical Center on January 25, 2022 at the Ruston Civic Center. Tickets for Chamber members are $50/individual or $400/table of 8; for non-members $55/individual or $440/table. Reservations can be made at www.rustonlincoln.org. The banquet is also sponsored by Origin Bank and Hunt, Guillot & Associates.
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