Craig Andrew Ellis, 69, passed away at home in his sleep in the early morning of September 3, 2021. His long struggle with aggressive skin cancer and resulting kidney failure came to an end. His pain is gone.
Craig was born in Newport News, VA on March 12, 1952. His mother, Janet Andrew Ellis, of Newport News was the epitome of graciousness. Always giving, she volunteered at hospitals and care facilities. His father, Lt Col Calvin Kemp Ellis of Albany, GA was field commissioned while on active duty in the Army Air Corps and went on to kill the enemies of freedom over Nazi Germany and Vietnam. He flew unproven aircraft as a test pilot at Edwards AFB.
Craig was a 1970 graduate of Choctawhatchee High School where he excelled at track. Guitar and surfing were his avocations. Craig graduated from DeVry Institute of Technology in Atlanta in 1974. He was hired by the Eglin AFB Vitro Services Operations and Maintenance contract as an Electronic Technician. In 1983, he received a leave of absence to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering at the University of Florida, graduating in December 1984. Craig was instrumental in the development of radar tracking systems for the Eglin test range. He was one of the primary designers of the Range Slaving System used at various test sites. Craig retired from the Eglin contract under Reliance Test and Technology in 2018. He missed the daily creative challenges and banter with his mentors and friends.
Craig’s life-long dream was to drive the Alaska Highway. He achieved that goal in 2010 with a round-trip from Fort Walton Beach to Homer, Alaska. Nothing made him happier than a road trip west, which he and Gaye made each year for 20 years.
Craig is survived by his wife of 35 years Gaye Smith Ellis, Fort Walton Beach; mother-in-law Drue Smith of Gulf Breeze; his sister Perri Stowitts Wren and her husband Marc of DeFuniak Springs. Marc graciously gave Craig one of his magnificent kidneys in 2012.
Please join Craig’s family and friends at Ali’s Bistro, 171 Brooks Street SE, Fort Walton Beach on September 23 from 3:00 to 4:30 p.m. for a celebration of his life.
Memorial contributions may be made to the American Kidney Foundation, www.kidneyfund.org, or PAWS - Fort Walton Beach www.paws-shelter.org.