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Charles Ellis Passes Away

Short illness claims Louisiana-based engineer

It has been brought to our attention that broadcast engineer Charles Ellis has passed away. Below is an excerpt by Michael Patton from a series of emails passing between acquaintances of Ellis that were sent to Radio World.

The broadcast consulting engineering community is mourning the loss of Charles Ellis of Lafayette, La., a highly-respected consulting engineer and owner of C. F. Ellis, Consulting Engineers. He died Friday, June 16, after a brief illness.

Charles Faison Ellis, PE, an AFCCE member, was born in Cloudland, Ga., in 1947 and worked as an engineer for WLAQ(AM), Rome, Ga., while still in high school, earning his First Class Radiotelephone license at age 16. After first majoring in classical piano at Oklahoma Baptist University, Charles earned dual Bachelor’s degrees in physics and math from Florida State University, where he also did engineering work for both the FSU TV and radio stations, serving as the chief engineer of WFSU(FM). After college, he joined the Peace Corps and taught math and physics in Fiji, where he met his future wife, Simla, and later in New Zealand, serving as CE for the first privately-owned radio station in Wellington.

After his overseas service, he returned to the United States, settling in Lafayette, La., the heart of Cajun country, where he operated a contract engineering firm that included as clients almost every radio station in the area at one point. During this time, Charles earned a BSEE from the University of Southwestern Louisiana (now the University of Louisiana at Lafayette). In 1980, he transitioned away from contract work and into consulting services, with an emphasis on RF propagation work, ranging from AM DA design and tuning, to RF facilities design, to AM/FM/TV allocations work. He was an expert on lightning and surge protection, and on emergency power systems for communications facilities. Charles also presented a number of seminars on communications system design, maintenance, and evaluation issues for various state and local governmental groups.

Possessed of a sly and subtle sense of humor, gifted with the ability to see the absurdity of life, and disarmingly willing to acknowledge his own limitations and foibles, Charles quickly earned the admiration and respect of all who worked with him. Although his name was not well-known in the larger station engineering community, he was well-liked and highly respected among consulting engineers, having worked with and earned the respect of the top names in the business, including Clarence Beverage, John and Jack Mullaney, Ron Rackley, Bob du Treil and others. Along the way, Charles took the time to mentor several engineers who went on to make their own impact on the business.

Charles also ventured into station ownership, applying for, building, operating, and then selling KJJB(FM) in Eunice, La., and KFXY in Lafayette.

His interests were broad, including playing the piano, critically listening to jazz and classical music and computer networking. family man, Charles loved to travel, having made several overseas trips with his wife and family. Possessed at times of an almost child-like innocence, he was one of that rare breed who was aware of his genius yet not consumed with arrogance.

Charles leaves behind a wife, Simla, two children, Todd and Sonja, and several grandchildren. His presence in his family and community, and in our industry, will be sorely missed.

Requiescat in pacem, Charles Ellis.

Michael Patton, CPBE, CBNE
Michael Patton & Associates
Baton Rouge, La.