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15458 Ellis, Ralph Louis
March 08, 1925 - August 02, 1993



Published Assembly Nov '97

Ralph Louis Ellis
No. 15458 Class of 1946

Died 3 August 1993 at New York City, New York, aged 68 years. Interment: Montefiore Cemetery, St. Albans, New York

Ralph was born 8 March 1925 in Brooklyn, NY. He graduated from Erasmus Hall High School in 1941 and attended Brooklyn College from 1941 to 1943. He joined the Class of 1946 on 1 July 1943.

Cadet life was interesting for Ralph. His innate sense of humor and quick wit made him popular with his classmates but some upperclassmen failed to see the humor. George Benson, '45, pinned the nickname of Lippy on Ralph because of his predilection to pop off and his love of the Brooklyn Dodgers and Leo (Lippy) Durocher. An upperclassman asked him what part of the south he was from (based on his frequent response of "Yes, Suh" when questioned. His answer, "South Brooklyn, Suh", brought down the house and gained him much upper class attention. He was extremely bright, especially in the humanities. Ralph graduated a second lieutenant in the Quartermaster Corps.

Following graduation, Ralph attended the Quartermaster School at Camp Lee, VA. His first assignment was to Korea in 1947. While in Korea he transferred to Cavalry. In 1949, he returned to the States to Fort Meade, MD. In March 1950, Ralph decided to leave the Army for civilian life. He immediately entered Fordham Law School and graduated in 1953. He was Editor in Chief of its Law Review.

Ralph practiced law with the firm of Shea & Gold (and its predecessors) in New York City. He was a partner in the firm for twenty-three years. In 1983, he left Shea & Gold to start a partnership with Arthur N. Abbey, Abbey & Ellis. It became the second largest plaintiff's stockholder litigation firm in the country based largely on Ralph's reputation as a well respected litigator and his ability to handle large corporate litigation.

Ralph's first marriage of 40 years was dissolved in 1989. He married Sheila Paperny in 1992. He continued his practice of law at Abbey & Ellis until his death on 3 August 1993. He is survived by his wife, Sheila; daughters, Andrea, Barbara and Donna; son, David and a brother, Joel.

There is no doubt about his prowess as an attorney; he gained national prominence in his field. The mark of the man, Ralph L. Ellis, is best stated by the remembrances of his family and associates.

Charles E. Simpson recalled: "I met Ralph Ellis in 1977 as a young associate at Shea & Gold. Ralph was the Managing Partner of the entire firm and head of the litigation department. He was a leader in the firm and well liked by all of the associates. He took me, the only African American attorney out of 100 attorneys, under his wing, made me welcome and introduced me to the law. He was the partner in charge of all my clients and matters. He taught me organization, diction, bearing and integrity in the practice of law and life. Ralph was well liked and respected by every member of the firm and among the members of the bar. He treated friend and foe alike with kindness and courtesy. From June 1983 until his death in 1993, Ralph practiced with Abbey & Ellis where he earned a reputation as a leading class action and shareholder derivative action attorney. There are literally millions of shareholders in corporations acquired or merged during the leveraged buyout days of the 1980's who owe collectively, hundreds of millions of dollars to the expertise that Ralph brought to bear on their behalf. Next to his family, Ralph loved the United States Military Academy. He displayed his commission to the Academy and as an officer in the Army and it was one of the few nonlegal related activities that Ralph engaged in. He remained an officer until the day he died."

Ralph's youngest daughter, Donna, expressed her memories of her beloved father: "Even though Dad left West Point some 50 years ago, West Point never left my Dad. There were telltale signs of Dad's pride in being a graduate. There was the West Point ring he always wore. It was a big ring with a stone that looked like a ruby. That was his trademark. On the few occasions he left in on his bureau, I would pick it up, examine it and try it on. I looked at it with awe, admiring it because it was my Dad's treasured West Point ring.

"As I grew older, I used to brag that Dad never lost a case, and he would 'correct' me to say that he settled them! Lippy certainly chose a career where his wisecracks could be put to good use! Early in my career as an attorney, I worked for a solo practitioner who took in an assortment of legal matters. Dad used to say that I practiced 'real people's law.' I used to consult with him regarding my cases, and he would give me pointers. Particularly astonishing was his ability to remember all the teachings of law school, the teaching I, like most lawyers, soon lost after graduation. When I would tell Dad that his knowledge of law surpassed all, he would always say, 'Donna, when you've practiced law for 30 years, you develop a feel for the law and even if you don't know the answer, you'll figure it out.' The most incredible quality my Dad had was his ability to love his four children equally and specially. Dad's heart was big enough to give each of us a special and exclusive place. In closing, I think Dad's greatest achievement was being a father and mine was being Dad's favorite youngest daughter. I thank my Dad every day for the warm memories he left me."

To these words of love, respect and affection, the Class of 1946 can only add: "Well Done, Ralph; Be Thou At Peace!"

'46 Memorial Article Project and his family

Personal Eulogy


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