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Ora Herbert Ellis (1916-2014)

O. Herbert Ellis
O. Herbert Ellis, 1972

Ora Herbert Ellis was born in Chandler, Oklahoma on March 23, 1916. He moved to Ann Arbor in 1942 and shortly after met his future wife, Virginia Wilson. He later enrolled at the University of Michigan, where he earned a Master’s in Education and a Master’s in Public Health.

Ellis taught biology at Pioneer High School and in 1969 won the George O. Ross Memorial Award as Ann Arbor's most outstanding teacher.

A Republican, Ellis also served on the Washtenaw Board of Commissioners representing the 12th district as Board Commissioner and on various Board bodies during the 1960s and early 1970s, serving as chairman of the Finance Committee for the County Mental Health Board and he served on an advisory committee to guide the housing and program activities of the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEM-COG).

Mayor Wendell E. Hulcher's proposed reappointment of Ellis to the Board in 1968 split the area's Black community, drawing criticism from members of both the NAACP and the Congress of Racial Equity that Ellis did not adequately address and respond to racial unrest.

He was also active on many other boards and committees, including a drug abuse center and law enforcement officers training center and of the United Methodist Church. He was a member of the Office of Economic Opportunity Board, former president of the Washtenaw Tuberculosis Association, president of the Senior Citizens Guild, and actively involved in the establishment of Washtenaw Community College. 

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