The Death Of Monte

September 7, 2010

Monte, Eric and Kathy at Big Lake

Monte died on June 3, 2009 at the age of sixty-nine years and what would have been he and Sharyl’s forty-eighth wedding anniversary.

A young Monte

In the earlier part of 2009, Monte’s health started to decline and as spring wore on, Monte’s strength and weight declined. Monte was all ready frail, but he started to move slower and was forced to be more careful in his walking and getting around.

After Monte’s wife, passed away in June of 2007, Monte refused to mow his lawn and instead wanted to allow his yard to return to a more natural habitat. Lucky for Monte, his yard was mostly secluded, which allowed for the overtaking of plants to go mostly unnoticed to passer-byes.

Monte's attempt at a natural yard

In the first few months of 2009, Monte had uncharacteristically agreed it was time to start mowing his yard again. In hindsight, it is possible Monte sensed his time was growing much shorter. On a warmer day in March, Monte’s yard was cleaned up of tree limbs and items in preparation for later mowing. A nice bonfire was able to be built from these tree limbs. Monte’s increasingly poor health was noticed while Monte sat in a chair and watched his four grand-daughters pick up sticks and throw them on the fire.

As with many elderly men, Monte was stubborn when it came to visiting doctors. Lucky for him, both his wife and a wonderful sister-in-law, Sharyl’s sister Susan, were nurses and did what they could when it came to his health. When Sharyl was alive, her well-intentioned harping would eventually be enough to force Monte to visit a doctor. With her gone, his stubbornness ruled the day.

Sharyl and Susan

During May, Monte’s son, Eric, and two, long-time close friends of the Monte Ellis family, Mark Holloway and John Morrow, arranged an evening of dinner and drinks at Monte’s house in Banner, IL. Prior to arriving, Eric had told Mark this might be Monte’s last go around for their evenings together and until Mark and John saw Monte that night, they had assumed Eric had been exaggerating, but after seeing Monte, they immediately remarked upon his condition.

Over the spring months of 2009, Monte had lost a lot of his appetite, but was consuming fortified energy drinks, supplements and other nutrients. He was also battling other health issues as well and still resistant to seeing a doctor.

On Sunday, May 31, 2009, Eric spent most of the day in Banner with Monte. At one point Monte was asked if he wanted to go to the Emiquon nature preserve near Havana. Monte had grown very excited over the reestablishment of this area to a natural wetlands area and enjoyed frequent road trips to this site to observe the progress.

Mark, Monte and John at the Emiquon preserve, Nov. 2008

However, on this day, Monte did not feel up to the ride to Emiquon. Instead, he agreed to take a ride down the much closer Banner Dike Road. This road travels along the Copperas Creek until it joins the Illinois River and then leads down to an abandoned historical lock and dam. The front gate to which was once the Big Lake site, where the Monte Ellis family once lived, is located at the end of this public road. Fortunately, the Dike Road was closed due to the continuing construction of a well-water pump house at the end of the Dike Road by the city of Canton, IL. The ownership of this turnaround area had been transferred to the city of Canton years ago. What was once the remains of a quiet, historical lock and dam was now a large construction zone made up of hills of mud and partially burnt, bulldozed detritus of what was once an out of the place, wooded area bordered by towering Cottonwood trees.

Monte would have been disgusted to see the site on that day.

Northeast corner of Copperas Creek Lock and Dam

Monte, Eric, Mark, John and sometimes Jay, Monte's nephew, would stand on this slab sipping beer and telling stories

On Monday and Tuesday of the same week, it was later learned Monte had driven up to the local drinking establishments and it is believed, said his good-byes to people in his own way. Later, after his death, people remarked about cryptic comments Monte had made and pointed out he had barely finished his beer before leaving (Monte preferred people not buying him drinks, not because he did not like free drinks, but only because when it came to tavern etiquette, he would have to reciprocate).

On Wednesday, June 3, Monte could not be raised on the telephone. His sister-in-law Susan was asked to check on his welfare and he was found deceased in his bed.

Monte had a scheduled a doctor’s appointment for later in this same week.

The cause of death noted on the death certificate is acute myocardial infarction, a massive heart attack.

In their last conversation, Monte had told his son he had lived a long life, was not afraid of dying and indicated he was ready to die. Monte also hoped to pass away like his mother, Zelma, and dreaded the “mess” he would be leaving behind; meaning his home, property and the process that would follow.

Sometime on June 3, 2009, similar to his mother, Monte passed away in his own home and in same antique oak bed he had been born in back on July 23rd, of 1939.

Monte, Kathy and Sharyl at the Banner Betts House


2 Responses to “The Death Of Monte”

  1. Jane said

    Thanks for sharing such a personal story Eric. Monty lived a full life and left behind much of himself in his art.

  2. monteellis said


    You are sure welcome. Thank you for your comments.

    Best wishes

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