Shirley Calkins Ellis, 82, of Riverton, a co-owner of newspapers in Bucks and Burlington Counties and elsewhere, died of natural causes Saturday, Nov. 12, at home.
Calkins Media, her family's firm, owns the Burlington County Times, the Bucks County Courier Times, and the Doylestown Intelligencer.
Her father, Stanley W. Calkins, in 1937 founded what is now Calkins Media. When he died in 1973, Mrs. Ellis shared ownership with her siblings, Stanley W. Calkins Jr., Sandra Hardy, and Carolyn Smith. The sisters bought out their brother's position in 1984.
Mrs. Ellis' son, Stanley M., director and vice president of Calkins Media, told the Burlington County Times that as his mother helped the family firm deal with the digital world, she "still liked the daily newspaper. She liked to hold that piece of paper on her hands."
In responding to that digital world, her son said, "she knew that was what the community and market wanted. For her, the platform was secondary to good, quality journalism."
Born in Uniontown, near Pittsburgh, Mrs. Ellis attended Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Ga., and graduated with a bachelor's degree in history at Pennsylvania State University.
A Calkins Media report states that when she was 18, she met Marvin Ellis, also 18. They married in 1956. A former publisher of the Times, he died in 1982.
Besides its Bucks and Burlington Counties newspapers, the Calkins firm owns the Beaver County (Pa.) Times, the Ellwood City (Pa.) Ledger, the Uniontown (Pa.) Herald-Standard, the South Dade News Leader in Homestead, Fla., and ABC-TV stations in Huntsville, Ala., and Sarasota and Tallahassee, Fla., as well as ShaleReporter.com.
Mark G. Contreras, Calkins Media CEO, was out of town and unavailable for comment on Tuesday, a spokeswoman for the firm's corporate office said.
Contreras told the Times that "Shirley's influence on the company was important and enduring."
She and her sisters, he said, "created an environment of tireless commitment to serving the communities where we operate and a passion for innovation over many decades."
Besides her son, Mrs. Ellis is survived by sons Bradley and Wesley, and six grandchildren. Her brother and sister Sandra also survive.
A visitation was set from 1:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 17, at Calvary Presbyterian Church, 300 Fourth St., Riverton, before a 2:30 p.m. funeral there. Interment is private.
Donations may be sent to www.ellisfamilyfoundation.org or the Marvin E. Ellis/S.W. Calkins Memorial Scholarship at Rowan College at Burlington County at rcbc.edu/foundation/scholarships.
Condolences may be offered to the family at www.weberfuneralhomeinc.com.