February 15, 2023 553 PM
Alpine has lost one of her longtime characters, Ellis Aldridge. Ellis died peacefully while accompanied by his family on December 20, 2022, in Denton, Texas, at the age of 79, one week prior to his 80th birthday. Ellis remained both unique as a person and authentic persona.
For the past 25 years, Ellis made his home in Alpine, where he sold hay, firewood, cross ties and cedar posts over the years. He was the go-to person for anyone needing help, and was a familiar face at his “informal office” at Penny’s Diner.
Ellis was born December 27, 1942, on the Knighton Farm in Stamps, Arkansas, to Erma and Elmer Aldridge. While he was formally educated through grade school and attended business college, Ellis would tell you that most of his real learning came from his time on the road and life experiences. He was a man of true grit, honesty and integrity, and he remained that way his entire life. A handshake was his code of honor. This code would follow him throughout his time as a cattleman, rancher, hat maker, and most importantly as a father, partner and friend. He could be described as a true jack of all trades because he was never a man of just one job.
He spent his early years working for the railroad then settled in Fort Worth, Texas, where he worked for and then purchased Coker Western Hatters on Exchange Avenue in the Stockyards. Ellis was a renowned hatter, making hats for many famous actors and Country Western musicians. He founded and was the first president of HAT (Hatters Association of Texas). In his later life he split his time between Arkansas and Texas. Alpine was where he lived for many years with the love of his life, Barbara McWha. They spent the last 25 years building a beautiful life that he was fond of talking about.
Ellis knew no greater love than the love he had for his family. He will be missed by all who had the good fortune to cross his path. His legacy will be honored through the telling of Ellis’ tales for years to come.
Ellis is survived by his mother, Erma McKnighton of Waldo, Arkansas; his brothers Joe and Albert Aldridge; his sister Mary Strange and husband RB; his two children Chandra White and Anthony Aldridge; his stepson Ryan Currer and his family; and his long time love, Barbara McWha.
He was interred at the family plot at Mount Vernon Church in Stamps, Arkansas, on December 27, 2022.