ROBERT KEKUMU ELLIS
88, passed away on September 10, 2012 after a lengthy illness. A private family graveside inurnment service was held at Diamond Head Memorial Cemetery.
Robert Kekumu Ellis, Bob or Kumu as family called him, was the eldest of seven children born to William Ellis and Maraea Pihaleo Ellis at Nawiliwili, Kaua’i on February 19, 1924. He graduated from Kauai High School where he was an active student leader, talented artist, violinist and thespian and was elected Student Body President in his senior year.
After high school, Bob was a University of Hawaii ROTC cadet on December 7, 1941, and was immediately pressed into service with the Hawai’i Territorial Guard. After the emergency was deemed over, he worked as an Instrument Maker at Pearl Harbor Navy Shipyard until drafted. After he was honorably discharged as a Staff Sergeant in Headquarters Company, U.S. Army Ground Forces Pacific, he enrolled at Harvard University from which he graduated in 1950 with a Bachelor of Arts degree.
Bob’s first job after college was as a civilian Military Occupational Standards Job Analyst operating out of the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. He conducted time-motion studies for all the newly created military jobs, including various levels of rocket scientists at White Sands in New Mexico, and other new positions at sites around the country. After two years, this project was complete and military job descriptions for all newly created jobs were adopted and became operative.
Following that special assignment, Bob was hired by the Washington Daily News. Within a few months, he participated in a national test being circulated by IBM for a proposed publications project. Of those who participated nationally screened, Bob was one of five top candidates selected for special training by IBM with Scripps-Howard Publishing Company. IBM selected Bob to take their specialized training and hired him to implement the “first ever” project to computerize Scripps-Howard publishing sites in Cincinnati, Denver, Memphis and Washington,
D.C. Quite a challenge and responsibility for a Hawaiian boy from Kaua’i! He directed the installation and personally programmed operational capabilities in all four cities. His job done, Bob left for other opportunities.
After the IBM/Scripps Howard project was over, Bob was hired by the Washington Post and started experimenting with computerizing art and graphics to be used in advertisements for various media. Talented as an artist, Bob was involved in the early computer technology which became more fashionable and interesting to use in news and magazine ads. A side benefit was brushing elbows with consulting customers like Jackie Kennedy, Elizabeth Taylor and others. Before retiring, he trained the next generation of computer professionals in the potentials for creativity in the field.
The exciting things that he was doing, mostly on the leading edge of technical advancement, the accessibility of outstanding theatrical and stage shows, fast paced developments in a variety of fields, and much more captivated Bob, so his return trip from Harvard to Hawai’i after graduation was delayed for approximately 40 years. Therefore, Bob had to be satisfied in the interim with ono Hawaiian food and Hawai’i news through the mail or visiting relatives and friends. Auwe! Finally, Bob returned home in the year 2003 and resided in Moanalua Valley with his widowed sister.
We celebrate the life of Robert Kekumu “Bob” Ellis who in his quiet, unassuming, creative way has made significant contributions in every field of his interest and involvement. This modest and self-effacing bright Native Hawaiian has shown all who follow what exciting and significant contributions we can make to benefit us all when we strive for excellence in performing while having fun in the excitement of living.
Friends will remember the different facets of this complex, highly intelligent free spirit who enjoyed every talent with which the Almighty blessed him.
He is survived by siblings: Winona Ellis Rubin, Edith U. Ellis, Patrick H. Ellis of Honolulu and Dorothy Ellis Zeffiro of Lihue, Kauai; nephew, William Ellis Zeffiro and his family, Keola B. (Kyla) Zeffiro, Jordyn Zeffiro, of Lihue, Kauai, nephew: Frank (Laurie) Zeffiro III, of Torrington, Connecticut, and niece, Winona (Shane) Nelson, Seth and Mia, of Boise, Idaho. Also surviving are numerous William Ellis ‘ohana.