Joe Ellithorpe passed away peacefully on July 26, 2017 just before midnight at a rehab facility in Coeur d’Alene where he was being treated for advanced prostate cancer. Joe was born on June 9, 1943 to Robert and Juanita Ellithorpe in San Francisco, California during a blackout.
When Joe was three, his family moved to the Los Angeles area where Joe attended Reseda Grammar School. He graduated from Birmingham High School in Reseda, California and attended Pierce Community College and Northridge State University where he was studying French.
In 1967 Joe was drafted into the United States Army. He served as a First Lieutenant, Armor division from December of that year through February of 1970. Although many of Joe’s friends ended up being sent to Vietnam, all of Joe’s time in the service was spent stateside. In February 1968, Joe was the Escort Officer for the Royal Highness Prince Brigadier Abdul Wali from Afghanistan while the prince visited the Los Angeles area. In May of 1969 Joe was selected to act as the tour director for the Belgium War College while they visited the United States. Both of these experiences held fond memories for Joe and he spoke of them often.
Joe had worked off and on in his father’s shooting sports shop from the age of 13 doing menial tasks, but by 1977, Joe bought out his father and his father’s partner, Ray Houser, and became the sole owner of Pony Express Sport Shop located in the San Fernando Valley in California. Throughout the years, the Pony Express had the honor of serving many celebrities such as John Wayne, Sylvester Stallone, Tom Selleck, Richard and Diamond Farnsworth, Jonathan Winters, and many others.
Joe traveled much throughout his life and often combined his love for seeing the world with his love of hunting. He traveled throughout the United States and Europe and hunted in the U.S., the North American Yukon, and South Africa.
In 1988 Joe met and married the love of his life Ruth E. Gennrich in Reseda, California. In 1992 they moved their family to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Joe traveled back and forth from 1992 through 2002 to California as the Pony Express was still operating. In 2002 the store in Los Angeles closed and in 2006 Northwest Pony Express opened in Coeur d’Alene.
Joe loved playing guitar and performing with his three daughters. He served on the worship team at Coeur d’Alene Bible church and sat on the boards of Classical Christian Academy, Let’s Go Fishing Men’s Ministry, and the Flying H Youth Ranch in Naches, Washington.
Joe is survived by his wife, Ruth; four children, Kaitlin, Erin, Amy, and Robbie; his son-in-law, Jaron; and his first grandchild, Eamon Robert Tietsort.
A memorial service will be held on August 26, 2017 at 11:00 a.m. at Real Life Ministries, 1860 N. Cecil Road, Post Falls, ID 83854 with a potluck lunch to follow. Drinks and sandwiches will be provided. Please bring a salad, side, or dessert to share.
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