El­lis fos­tered ‘col­lec­tive pride in our home’

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - OBITUARIES -

One of the pi­o­neers of com­mu­nity tele­vi­sion in P.E.I. has died.

Wen­dell El­lis died Mon­day at the Prince County Hos­pi­tal in Sum­mer­side at the age of 71.

El­lis spent more than three decades at Is­land Cable­vi­sion Stu­dio 10, now Eastlink TV, film­ing events and per­son­al­i­ties across the Is­land. He re­tired in 2009.

Dur­ing his ten­ure there, he pro­duced a num­ber of award­win­ning and very pop­u­lar pro­grams, in­clud­ing Bill’s Jam­boree, Her­itage 92 and Com­mu­nity Show­case.

He was also in­stru­men­tal in launch­ing a telethon in sup­port of the Queen El­iz­a­beth Hos­pi­tal.

David Dun­phy, Eastlink’s busi­ness de­vel­op­ment man­ager for P.E.I. and El­lis’s friend for 25 years, de­scribed him as a man of vi­sion and a true com­mu­nity tele­vi­sion pi­o­neer.

“I was very for­tu­nate to have worked with Wen­dell,” Dun­phy said. “He was a man of vi­sion who worked on a lot of suc­cess­ful projects. He was in­stru­men­tal in the de­vel­op­ment of com­mu­nity tele­vi­sion here. He helped start the telethon for the QEH and was in­volved in a num­ber of other fundrais­ing projects.”

Dun­phy said El­lis was very good at bring­ing im­por­tant is­sues to the pub­lic’s at­ten­tion.

In 2012, his con­tri­bu­tions to com­mu­nity tele­vi­sion earned him a Di­a­mond Ju­bilee Medal.

At that time he was de­scribed in the ci­ta­tion that ac­com­pa­nied the award as a true am­bas­sador of Prince Ed­ward Is­land who spent more than three decades bring­ing the sto­ries of Is­lan­ders to the tele­vi­sion screen.

“Spear­head­ing Com­mu­nity Show­case, he both in­tro­duced view­ers across the Is­land to the many won­ders of our prov­ince and fos­tered a sense of col­lec­tive pride in our home,” the ci­ta­tion read.

In 1982, his idea to pro­duce and air a pro­gram called the Rally for the In­ter­na­tion­ally Dis­abled earned him his first Omer Gi­rard Award for In­no­va­tion Ca­ble Pro­gram­ming.

Handed out by the Cana­dian Ca­ble Tele­vi­sion As­so­ci­a­tion, the award is con­sid­ered the in­dus­try’s equiv­a­lent to the Academy Award.

El­lis nabbed his se­cond com­mu­nity tele­vi­sion “Os­car” nine years later by stag­ing the am­bi­tious Child Aware­ness Day — a pro­ject that in­volved thou­sands of vol­un­teers, so­cial or­ga­ni­za­tions, all P.E.I. po­lice and fire de­part­ments, safety or­ga­ni­za­tions and ev­ery stu­dent on the Is­land.

“It didn’t take very long to learn how pow­er­ful the com­mu­nity chan­nel was and what it could do for peo­ple,” El­lis once said of his work. “I feel that the Is­lan­ders feel and know that it is their chan­nel.”

His work was also ac­knowl­edged by the Cham­ber of Com­merce, which pre­sented him with the pres­i­dent’s award. He was de­scribed by the cham­ber as a man who had the abil­ity to rally the en­tire prov­ince be­hind an idea.

El­lis was also an avid gar­dener and an award-win­ning pho­tog­ra­pher. El­lis is sur­vived by his wife, San­dra, a son, Stephen, a daugh­ter, Lori Ann, as well as by three grand­chil­dren. Fu­neral ser­vices will be held Satur­day at the Moase Fu­neral Home, Sum­mer­side, at 11 a.m.

GUARDIAN PHOTO

Wen­dell El­lis is seen in this file photo.

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