William J. Ellis, 92, of Swarthmore, a retired millwright and decorated World War II veteran, died May 14 at Wallingford Nursing Home.
Mr. Ellis grew up in the Grays Ferry area of Philadelphia. As a young man, he worked for a steel mill in Conshohocken and for the Civilian Conservation Corps in upstate Pennsylvania. He also was a talented amateur boxer.
During World War II, he enlisted in the Army even though he could have had an exemption because he was married with a child, his son Robert said. He served with the Army's 82d Airborne Division in North Africa and Sicily and participated in the D-Day invasion and in the Battle of the Bulge. He was seriously wounded and received a Purple Heart with two oak leaf clusters. Mr. Ellis never spoke of the war, but an Army buddy told his son, "he was my hero." Mr. Ellis was a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
After his discharge, Mr. Ellis was a millwright at the DuPont paint manufacturing plant in Grays Ferry. He retired in 1977.
In the 1950s and 1960s, Mr. Ellis marched in Mummers parades with the Charles Klein New Year's Association, a fancy division. He enjoyed shooting darts.
In addition to his son, Mr. Ellis is survived by a daughter, Teresa; a sister; three grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren. His wife of 44 years, Catherine Sweeney Ellis, died in 2004.