Jim Ellis, founder of automotive group, dies at age 90

Jim Ellis Automotive Group founder passes away at 90

Jim Ellis Automotive Group founder passes away at 90

Jim Ellis, founder of the Jim Ellis Automotive Group in metro Atlanta, died at age 90 on Friday.

The family, in an official obituary, did not state the cause of death but said he died peacefully.

James “Jim” Wesley Ellis Jr., who lived in Duluth when he passed away, founded the first Jim Ellis dealership in 1971 and with his wife, Billie, grew the automotive group to 20 dealerships in Buford, Chamblee, Kennesaw, Marietta, McDonough, Sandy Springs and South Fulton. The company said it employs more than 1,500 people.

Earlier this year, Jim Ellis Automotive Group was among the 175 best places to work in metro Atlanta, according to a survey from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and research partner Energage.

Funeral services for Ellis are scheduled for Wednesday at 11 a.m. at Johns Creek Baptist Church. Visitation will be from 2 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday in the Peachtree Corners Chapel of Crowell Brothers Funeral Homes & Crematory.

His son and CEO and president of the company, James “Jimmy” Edward Ellis, died last month at age 67. Another son, William Gregory Ellis, also preceded him in death.

Ellis, according to a biography on the automotive group’s website, was born in Atlanta and grew up on a farm. As a child, he ran a milk and paper route, worked construction and operated a concessions business in Grant Park.

By the time he had earned his degree from Georgia State University in 1957, he had worked as a prison guard and foreman and had sold insurance, IBM machines and real estate among his jobs to work his way through college. He also served two years in the U.S. Army. He was employed in the 1960s at General Motors before opening his first dealership in 1971.

While at Jim Ellis Automotive Group, he helped create the Jim and Billie Ellis Foundation, which has donated more than $50 million to local charities over the years, the obituary said.

His obituary requests that donations be made on his behalf to Atlanta Mission, Norcross Cooperative Ministries or Eagle Ranch.

He was an active member of Johns Creek Baptist Church and enjoyed, golf, tennis and fishing.

He is survived by his wife, Billie Jean Sammons Ellis, daughters Karen Ellis Black and Kristi Ellis Cohron and several grandchildren.