James Shelton Ellis Jr., 61, high-end retail vice president who loved fine art

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James Shelton Ellis Jr.
James Shelton Ellis Jr.

James Shelton Ellis, Jr. died at the Dosher Nursing Center on Thursday, May 19, 2016. He was born in Greensboro on June 7, 1954.

He was preceded in death by his parents, James S. Ellis and Mary Lura (Lu) Kincaid Ellis; and one sister, Lura Ellis Newcome.

He is survived by two sisters, Ann Ellis White (Jim) and Mary Ellis Luper (Tony); three nephews, two nieces, four grand-nieces and one grand-nephew; and a host of close friends and former associates.

A graduate of Page High School in Greensboro and Davidson College, Class of 1976, where he was a biology major and a member and house manager for Phi Gamma Delta fraternity. He spent his life in high-end retail. He began his career with Neiman-Marcus in Dallas and Houston, Texas, before moving to Gump’s Inc. He was the first executive director of Gump’s store in Houston, Texas; the first executive director of Gump’s store in Beverly Hills, Calif.; and the executive director of Gump’s home store in San Francisco, Calif. While working in Beverly Hills, he was on the board of directors of the Museum of Natural History of Los Angeles County, serving as chairman of the Dinosaur Ball fundraising special event.

He left Gump’s to become the first vice president for Merchandising and New Business Development for Replacements Ltd. in Greensboro. His final position was as executive director for Trianon Seaman Schepps of New York City, where he was responsible for opening and running their stores on Worth Avenue in Palm Beach, Fla., (winter months) and on Nantucket, Mass., (summer months). He became active in the Nantucket Historical Association and hosted the ‘Thank You Party’ for major donors to the annual August Antique Show Fundraiser on Nantucket.

In addition to his family and friends, he loved nature, fine art and holidays. He took great delight in growing orchids, Christmas cacti, amaryllis, and exotic Hawaiian plants. Over the years, he collected many beautiful pieces of art and a remarkable library that represented these interests. He will be remembered by all for his passion for Christmas, which was portrayed annually by his spectacular collection of Christmas ornaments with a special focus on the early work of Christopher Radko. For ones who knew him, Christmas will never come without thoughts of Shelton. Many of these treasures have new homes, but no one will cherish them as much as he did.

A memorial service will be held at 4 p.m. Saturday, July 23, at Peacock, Newman Funeral Home Chapel. The family will receive friends from 3 to 4 p.m. prior to the service.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to The ALS Association, Jim ‘Catfish’ Hunter Chapter, 4 N. Blount St., Suite 200, Raleigh, NC 27601; Nantucket Historical Association, P.O. Box 1016, Nantucket, MA 02554; Museum of Natural History of Los Angeles County, 900 Exposition Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90007; or Davidson College, P.O. Box 7170, Davidson, NC 28035-7170.

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