Richard “Dick” Ellis

The campus community mourns the passing of Richard “Dick” Ellis, who died on Monday, March 23.  Dick retired in 2005 as Professor Emeritus of Biology, after 36 years of service to Bucknell.

The biology department has shared the following thoughts:

Dick was an extremely passionate and dedicated educator and scientist over his long career in the Biology Department. He was committed to bringing out the best in his students and everyone around him. Dick’s service to the Biology Department included several years as department chair, and he was very active in the Bucknell and Lewisburg communities. We will greatly miss seeing Dick on campus and around town. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his wife, Judy, and to the rest of his family and friends.

Included below is the complete text of the obituary, as provided by the family.

You are encouraged to visit our In Memoriam Site at and share personal notes of sympathy and remembrance with others.

On behalf of our entire University community, I extend our deepest sympathies to Dick’s family, as well as to all who knew him at Bucknell.

John C. Bravman


Richard John “Dick” Ellis, 80, of Lewisburg, passed away on Monday, March 23, 2020, at Buffalo Valley Lutheran Village.

He was born April 11, 1939, in New Castle, Indiana, the son of the late Francis and Enid Ellis.

At age 8, his family moved to Altadena, California, mainly to remove him from the allergens in Indiana that caused him great discomfort. He was always an excellent student and loved playing baseball, riding his bike, and earning money by mowing lawns. He graduated from John Muir High School, attended Pasadena Community College and then received his bachelor’s degree from University of California Santa Barbara. After a year of post-grad studies at Washington State University, he transferred to University of California, Berkeley, and graduated with a Ph.D. in Biology in 1967.

His first academic appointment was at City College of New York, but Dick decided an urban campus was not what he preferred, so in the spring of 1968 he accepted a faculty position in Biology at Bucknell University. It was a perfect match for him — living in a town with great community feeling, teaching undergraduate students and having university and grant support for research in the mechanisms of plant phototropism — why and how plants move toward light. Dick and faculty from two other departments began the Environmental Studies Program in 1978. He retired from Bucknell as Professor of Biology in 2005.

Dick has volunteered with Bucknell’s athletic department helping run the scoreboard for several athletic teams and has been a member of the Bucknell Athletic Hall of Fame Committee.

While at Bucknell he joined an informal racquetball lunchtime group and loved the competition, friendship, and fun of this group. It was very special to him.

For 25 years, Dick has served as a volunteer for the Eastern Union County Supplemental Food Program (the “Food Bank”) in Lewisburg and was instrumental in organizing additional volunteers. He and wife, Judy, are members of First Baptist Church, Lewisburg.

Dick was a voracious reader all of his life – his interests ranging from ancient Greek classics through the literary canon to contemporary mystery to baseball analysis, especially Bill James.

He is survived by his loving wife of 34 years, Judy Ellis; his daughters, Annette Ellis of Durham, N.C., and Tamara Ellis of Sunbury; his stepdaughters, Rebecca Compton, husband Jeremy and their son, Noah, of Philadelphia and Gwendolyn Compton-Engle, husband Tron and their daughter, Mia, of Cleveland, Ohio.

A Celebration of Life service will be announced at a later date.

Burial will be held privately at the convenience of the family in the Lewisburg Cemetery Columbarium.

Please consider donations to Dick’s favorite charity: Alice Lloyd College, providing education and leadership for Appalachia (100 Purpose Road Pippa Passes, KY 41844), or to a charity that is special to you.

The family is being assisted by Cronrath-Grenoble Funeral Home, South Second and St. Louis Streets, Lewisburg.

Expressions of sympathy may be shared at


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