Thursday, February 16, 2006
Steamboat Springs Bill Doyne remembers Ron Ellis as more than Milner's "Mayberry repair man."
Ellis was a "six-pack and a handshake" kind of repairman, one who rarely charged for work and never closed his garage door, Doyne said.
When Doyne learned that Ellis, 53, died Christmas Eve in a car accident on Rabbit Ears Pass, he knew he had to do something for Ellis and his wife, Susan Ellis, who survived the accident.
On Sunday, Doyne and a few other volunteers will host a silent auction dinner and benefit at Doyne's restaurant, the Old Milner Roadhouse.
Doyne said the $10 entrance fee includes a pulled pork dinner, a raffle ticket and live entertainment from Half Pint, a band made up of former band members of the Brew Glass Boys and the Storm Mountain Moonshiners.
"I've never done something like this before. I don't really know what I'm doing or if I'm even doing it right. I'm just doing it out of my heart because I wanted to," Doyne said.
Doyne fought back tears Wednesday as he explained how special Ellis was to not only Milner residents but also to people in other Yampa Valley communities.
"Ronny always called you "bud." That's how it was with him -- he never had a bad word to say about anybody or anything. I wish I could live my life more like he did," he said.
Doyne said he saw Ron and Sue at least once a week in his restaurant and even more often when Doyne had car troubles.
"He was always helping me out. How would you get to town without the local mechanic?" Doyne said.
Doyne hopes the benefit will provide money to help Sue and James Ellis, Ron's son, with some of their expenses.
More than 50 businesses and individuals donated items or services for Sunday's silent auction, with most of the donations coming from people who did not know Ellis.
"I started asking people to donate, and it snowballed from there. Some of the people and businesses didn't ask for an explanation, they didn't know Ronny from Adam, they just made a donation," he said.
Doyne said he has received donations that include a pair of round-trip airline tickets, a hunting package valued at $1,500, local plane tours and restaurant gift certificates.
Doyne and James Ellis are touched by how the community has responded to the benefit.
"It is uplifting to see how a community comes together. I think it's fabulous what (Doyne) is doing for my family. It's exactly what my father would have done for anyone else," James Ellis said.
James Ellis said his main concern is helping Sue, his stepmother, and taking care of his father's affairs and his sister.
Those who can't attend Sunday's benefit can call the restaurant and bid on items by telephone. Donations for the auction will be accepted until 5 p.m. Sunday.
Cash donations can be made in Ron Ellis' name at Vectra Bank in Steamboat Springs.
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