Obituary for James Darwin Ellett
James D. Ellett, Reno resident for over 60 years, passed away July 13, 2017. Born on March 7, 1928, to Harry Darwin Ellett and Helen Horton Herbst Ellett in Teaneck, New Jersey, James and his father moved to Fresno, California when James was six-years-old. The Ellett’s lived in Fresno, California, until the start of World War II, when James moved to Roswell, New Mexico, to live with his grandmother. In 1943, Jim and his father moved to San Francisco, California, where he attended Lowell High School and coached the JV Football Team to a City Championship. James later became a life member of the California Scholarship Federation and graduated from San Francisco City College, where he was a life member of the Alpha Gamma Sigma Honor Society.
James Ellett began his insurance career in 1946 with Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company. In 1956, he was promoted to Special Agent; he was subsequently transferred to Reno. In 1964, he was promoted to branch manager for Fireman’s Fund and was again promoted to Resident Vice President in 1966. During his tenure at Firemen’s Fund, he furthered his insurance expertise by completing extensive coursework at San Francisco State College, The University of San Francisco, and The University of California. He also furthered his insurance training and knowledge by attending various Home Office Schools conducted by Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company. In 1974, Ellett graduated from the University of Michigan School for Management, and in 1975, James received the distinguished designation of Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter (CPCU).
In addition to continuing his own education, Ellett was committed to the education of others and taught classes in the Adult Education Division at Reno High School and at the University of Nevada, as well as in various schools conducted by Fireman’s Fund. He also conducted educational seminars for the Nevada Independent Insurance Agents and finance seminars for the University of Nevada.
The Insurance Women of Reno awarded Ellett the “Boss of the Year” award in 1969, 1970, and 1971, recognizing that he lived his life committed to the well-being of others. While Resident Vice President with Fireman’s Fund, Ellett also won numerous awards for being the best Branch Office in the United States. At one time, Fireman’s Fund was one of the largest employers in Washoe County.
After 33 years with Fireman’s Fund, James Ellett retired in 1980, when Fireman’s Fund closed its Reno office. Soon thereafter, Ellett started his own independent insurance agency, James D. Ellett Insurance Agency. He later merged his business with Richied & Associates, where he continued to work every day until his death. Ellett’s insurance career spanned 71 years and included service on the Board of Directors for both the Nevada Independent Insurance Agents and the Professional Insurance Agents of California, Nevada, Arizona & New Mexico. He is also a Past President of both associations.
A lover of sports, Ellett was a football and basketball referee for 35 years working for Nevada High Schools and the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association. He was also Commissioner of Officials for all high school sports and was inducted into the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association Hall of Fame in 1993. In addition, he received the Distinguished Service Award for outstanding service from the National Federation of High School Associations in 1990 and the Outstanding Official in the Western United States.
In 1964, Ellett bought a piece of property in Rubicon Bay, Lake Tahoe, California, and built a seasonal home from the ground up. He, his wife, and family spent every summer weekend at the Lake. He looked forward to opening the house every spring and entertaining family and friends throughout the summer months.
On February 19, 1976, James married the love of his life, Monica Miller, at Hilton Head, South Carolina. He and Monica traveled the world together. During their travels, they visited all seven continents and took 26 different cruises. They also traveled to attend numerous NASCAR races, including 12 Daytona 500 Races. James was a longtime member of the Prospector’s Club. He was also a member of the Cloverleaf Square Dance Club for 11 years with his wife, Monica, where he served as Sheriff and an officer of the club for 10 years.
James is survived by his wife of 41 years, Monica Miller-Ellett of Reno; his two daughters, Celine Duke (Mark) of Georgetown, TX and Celeste Woo (Darryl) of San Francisco; CA, his six grandchildren, Colin Duke of Houston, TX, Jennifer Duke, M.D., of Houston, TX, Aaron Duke of Georgetown, TX, Christopher Woo of San Francisco, CA, Chelsea Woo of Orange, CA, & Chloe Woo of Philadelphia, PA. He and Monica are also survived by their daughter, Cindy Fleischer (Mitch) of Reno, NV. He is also survived by his brother-in-law, Al Mohatt (Linda) of Reno, NV and nephews, Alan Renwick of Reno, NV, Todd Renwick (Tawnya) of Reno, NV, David Mohatt of Reno, NV and niece, Rhonda Hoeinstein of Reno, NV.
A memorial service will be held at Our Lady of Snows, 1138 Wright Street, Reno, Nevada at 10:00 am on Thursday, July 27th. A lunch reception will follow at the Reno Elks Lodge, 597 Kumle Lane, Reno, Nevada at Noon on Thursday, July 27th.