Longtime Kentucky reporter Ronnie Ellis dies

March 16, 2020 GMT

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Ronnie Ellis, a Hall of Fame reporter who was a fixture in Kentucky’s statehouse press corps until his retirement, died Monday in his hometown of Glasgow. He was 68.

Ellis died at T.J. Samson Community Hospital, according to Hatcher & Saddler Funeral Home in Glasgow, which is handling arrangements. His death followed a lengthy battle with lung problems, media outlets reported.

Ellis had a long career as a newspaper reporter in Kentucky capped by his long-running role as state government and political correspondent in Frankfort for Community Newspaper Holdings Inc. His byline was a mainstay in CNHI newspapers for years.

Last month, Ellis was among the journalists selected for this year’s class of the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame.

Ellis earned bipartisan praise Monday from Kentucky politicians he covered.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Ellis “earned a reputation as one of the hardest-working reporters in Kentucky.”

“He was always armed with the tough questions, and he helped set the standard for other journalists,” the Kentucky Republican said in a statement. “Ronnie gave his readers a first-hand look into their government and helped shape countless conversations across the commonwealth.”

Amy McGrath, among a group of Democrats vying to challenge McConnell in this year’s election, offered her own tribute to the veteran journalist.

“Ronnie Ellis was the first reporter I ever spoke with back in 2017 when I was considering running for public office,” she said in a social media post. “He was always professional, smart, good-natured and a true patriot.”

Kentucky House Speaker David Osborne also praised Ellis’ skills as a reporter.

“However, those who knew Ronnie will also remember his great sense of humor and incredible institutional knowledge,” Osborne said in a statement.

In a recent column in the Glasgow Daily Times, editor Daniel Suddeath wrote that Ellis was “a true journalist” who cared about the story, “not being the story.”

The column, titled “A legend gets his due,” was about Ellis’ Hall of Fame selection.

After retiring from his statehouse reporting job in late 2018, he continued to write a regular column for CNHI Kentucky.

For years, Ellis was also a frequent guest on Kentucky Educational Television’s “Comment on Kentucky” public-affairs show.

Ellis began his journalism career in 1974 when he worked at The Edmonson County News while still a student at Western Kentucky University, media outlets reported. He worked as a reporter for the Glasgow Daily Times and The Gleaner in Henderson before taking the Frankfort job.