Let us pray in thanksgiving for the life of Fr. William J. Ellos, SJ, who died on July 8, 2021, in San Antonio, Texas. He was 84 years old. May he rest in peace.
Bill is survived by two sisters (Lynn Hilts and Myrna Breivik) and a nephew, Deacon Bryan Hilts.
Bill was born on May 15, 1937, in Ironwood, Michigan. He entered the former Wisconsin Province on August 7, 1955, at the Jesuit novitiate in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Bill was ordained on June 4, 1968, at the Church of the Gesu in Milwaukee and pronounced final vows at Loyola University Chicago on April 5, 1987.
Bill attended grade school in Hurley, Wisconsin, and graduated in 1955 from St. Lawrence Seminary High School in Mount Calvary, Wisconsin. Bill had the usual Jesuit course of studies for Jesuits of the former Missouri and Wisconsin Provinces, attending St. Stanislaus Seminary, Saint Louis University, and St. Mary’s College. After ordination, he began his graduate studies in philosophy at Washington University in St. Louis (1969–1970) before completing his graduate studies at the Pontifical Gregorian University (the Greg) in Rome. He earned his Ph.D in philosophy from the Greg in 1974.
During regency, Bill taught Latin and Greek at Marquette University High School (1962–1964). He also taught at Creighton University (1964–1965). After doctoral studies, Bill taught philosophy at the Gregorian University (1974–1975), Marquette University (1975–1976), Gonzaga University (1976–1980), Loyola University Chicago (1980–1994), and St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, Texas (1994–1998). From 1998–2013, he was a clinical professor of medical ethics at the University of Texas Health Sciences Complex in San Antonio. From 2013 until his death, Bill was on the Methodist Health Care Center Institutional Review Board. In addition, Bill also published various articles and the book Ethical Practice in Clinical Medicine.
Bill was very fulfilled in his life as a Jesuit. He loved the priesthood and learning. He started his studies at Lawrence Seminary and then entered the Jesuit novitiate with four other friends from that high school seminary. His move to the Jesuits fit both his desire for the priesthood and his special love for learning. He earned a doctorate in philosophy and pursued further learning in medical ethics.
Bill enjoyed visiting his fellow classmates, relatives, and friends during breaks in the summer. He loved the reunions with his ordination classmates. The reunions started with the 20th anniversary in Mexico and continued every five years wherever the classmates could gather: Colorado, Omaha, Waupaca, etc. Unfortunately, ill health kept him from his 50th reunion in Omaha. He was at his best when he was with friends; he enjoyed regaling everyone with his stories. When Jesuits staffed a parish in San Antonio, he would regularly join them for a monthly dinner.
Bill was known to enjoy kidding others and being kidded in return—especially about being raised in Hurley, Wisconsin, which is on the border on the Upper Peninsula (of Michigan). He was proud of his Wisconsin roots and remained a loyal Green Bay Packers fan throughout his life, no matter where he lived: Spokane, Chicago, or San Antonio.
Bill had a keen mind. He dedicated his professional life to teaching philosophy and advised numerous health care staff and patients about medical ethics. He was very proud of his work in medical ethics and his teaching career. He loved his ministry in San Antonio but also loved the heat of Texas, and returning to the cold of Wisconsin winters was something he did not look forward to.
When guests visited Bill in the later years of his life, he introduced them to the many friends he made at Patriot Heights (his assisted living facility). The staff and residents at Patriot Heights loved Bill—and his stories (even when some of the stories went on a bit too long). Bill’s care and concern for others were present throughout his life.
Bill will be cremated. There will be a Mass of Christian Burial on August 2, 2021, in Marathon, Wisconsin. Interment will be at Mount Olivet in Milwaukee.