Ronnie Ellis
    Ronnie Ellis, an accomplished Kentucky political reporter, died 
Monday, March 16 at a hospital in his hometown, two weeks be-fore his 
scheduled induction into the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame. He was 
68.
    His family said the cause of death was heart failure and COPD, a 
lung disease he had battled in recent years.
    A native of Glasgow, he covered state government and politics for 
CNHI Kentucky newspapers from 2005 until his retirement in November 
of 2018. Yet he continued to write a weekly political column.
    Ellis frequently appeared as a guest on the Kentucky Educational 
Television public affairs program, "Comment on Kentucky," and had 
worked earlier in his career for the Glasgow Daily Times, The 
Henderson Gleaner and the Edmond-son News, the latter while a student 
at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green.
    He took an eight year hiatus from journalism in the 1990s to work 
for the Ohio Valley United Way in Owensboro, Ky.
    Ellis was one of 10 Kentucky journalists scheduled for induction 
into the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame on March 31.
    "I am greatly flattered by the recognition," he said upon learning 
of the honor in mid-February. He added that covering the statehouse 
was "the best, and most fun, job I ever had."
    Recognized for his knowledge of Kentucky political history, Ellis 
often said his tenet tied to even-handed coverage of Republicans and 
Democrats. He had the cell phone numbers of many political 
heavyweights, including U.S. Senate leader Mitch McConnell.
    "Ronnie Ellis earned a reputation as one of the hardest-working 
reporters in Kentucky,"  McConnell said Monday. "He was always armed 
with the tough questions, and he helped set the standard for other 
journalists. Even when he disagreed with your position, you knew he'd 
treat everyone fairly."
    Speaker David Osborne of the Kentucky House of Representatives 
described Ellis as "a legend in Kentucky journalism. His coverage 
provided local newspapers throughout the Commonwealth with 
unparalleled access to Kentucky government and politics. However, 
those who knew Ronnie will also remember his sense of humor and 
incredible institutional knowledge."
    Bill Ketter, CNHI's senior vice president for news, said Ellis was 
an exemplary political reporter and conversationalist.
    "He drank, ate, slept and talked Kentucky politics," said Ketter. 
"You'd sit down at a restaurant for lunch with him in Frankfort, and 
the pols would stop by, one by one, to talk politics. He seldom had a 
chance to complete a meal."
    n an interview with the Richmond, Kentucky, Register, upon learning 
of his selection for the Hall of Fame, Ellis  described his 
experience this way: "I got to talk to interesting people. Some of 
them were scoundrels. There weren't too many saints, but most of them 
were trying to do the right thing."
    Ellis is survived by his son, John "Jack" Ellis, his daughter, 
Scottie Ellis, who is an administrative assistant to Gov. Andy 
Beshear, and his grandson, Ollie Ellis Garcia.
    His family said a memorial service will be held at a later date 
because of the coronavirus crisis. They asked that donations in his 
memory be sent to the University of Kentucky's Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues at tinyurl.com/rp7qknu.

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