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September 21, 1934 ~ August 10, 2023 (age 88) 88 Years Old
Ellsworth Edward Smith, 88, of Leo, Indiana, passed away peacefully on August 10, 2023. He was born in 1934 to Amos and Priscilla Smith and grew up in Oaklandon, Indiana. Ellsworth was a precocious child, surprising many by getting his electricians license at a very young age and First Class FCC license to operate radio and television transmitters at 16 years old. From an early age he had a deep interest and knowledge of subjects as diverse as electricity and telecommunications but also adored animals and nature. Ellsworth attended Indiana University, then entered a 4 year civil service apprentice program with the government. That lead to working in a military lab which then transitioned to teaching at Arsenal Tech and IUPUI. His involvement with radar and satellite technologies with the military led to his work as an engineer at Magnavox. Ellsworth traveled the world working on naval ships for Magnavox and Raytheon. His work was always top secret as it had to do with government defense so his family never had any idea how he spent his days. Whatever work he was doing, they knew he collected a loyal following of friends who adored him.
Ellsworth loved music and was passionate about pipe organs and carillons. In the 1970’s, Fort Wayne’s Embassy Theater and Grand Page Pipe organ was in peril of being torn down. Ellsworth, along with a handful of friends, formed the Embassy Theatre Foundation and saved it from destruction. It was around this time he met the love of his life, Sherry, who came with two children he loved as well, Craig and Penny. They became a family in December of 1973 and in 1975, their daughter Betsy was born.
Ellsworth was never one to retire, so he weathered corporate layoffs working for Campus Net creating phone systems for universities, then later security for Command Systems and General Dynamics. One of the projects he was most proud of was creating the phone system for Sweetwater Sound’s original building and then later working in their security department for 15 years. Until recently, Ellsworth fulfilled positions on the board of directors and volunteered at many area organizations: Indiana Covered Bridge Society, Fort Wayne Engineers Club, The Little River Wetlands Project, ACRES Land Trust, Fox Island Alliance, Canal Society of Indiana and The Friends of the Limberlost State Historic Site. In 2016, alongside dear friends, Bill Zabel and Robert Nickerson, he was awarded Arts United’s Outstanding Arts Advocate award for his volunteer work for the Embassy Theater. Later in his life, Ellsworth’s love of nature led to him getting an Indiana Master Naturalist and Master Gardener certification. He was known as the “Garlic Mustard Man" at many DNR properties where he had pulled thousands of the invasive plants and taught others how to do so effectively. That lead to him volunteering every week at the Lawton Green house which supplied the Botanical Conservatory and Fort Wayne parks with their flowers and plants. He hardly ever missed his day to volunteer and did so until just a few months before he passed.
Ellsworth was preceded in death by his son-in-law Andrew Zabel and his daughter Penny Potter-Domurat, both who were very special to him. He lost his wife Sharon Smith this past March, after he stood by her side and cared for her during an extended illness. They were married for just shy of 50 years. Ellsworth is survived by his two remaining children, Craig Skeens of Fremont, Indiana, and Betsy (John) King of Los Gatos, California; eight grandchildren, Alyson Skeens, Alexis Skeens, Kassi Skeens, Noah Skeens, Miles King, Jocelyn King, Kurtis Potter, and Emily Potter; two great-grandchildren, Greyson and Navy; and one sister, Anita Dalton of Virginia.
A memorial service will be held on Sunday, September 17th, 2023 at the Embassy Theater. Visitation will be from 3-4 PM with a memorial service starting at 4:30 PM. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made in Ellsworth’s name to either ACRES Land Trust, PO Box 665, Huntertown, Indiana, 46748 or the Embassy Theatre, 125 West Jefferson Blvd, Fort Wayne, IN 46802.