Evansville newspaper carrier’s retirement getting national attention

Bobby Ellis

It’s not often news of a newspaper carrier’s retirement garners national attention.  But Bobby Ellis isn’t your average carrier.

It’s estimated in his 53 years working in downtown Evansville, Ind. that he has walked 150,000 miles and sold 2 million papers.

U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly sent out a congratulatory tweet to Ellis after reading the story on him published in The Evansville Courier & Press.  Senator Donnelly’s tweet reads: “I want to wish Bobby Ellis a happy retirement. Your 53 yr service to Evansville is inspiring to all Hoosiers.– Joe”


The national publication, Editor & Publisher, plans to feature Bobby Ellis as its Industry Achiever on his retirement.

He has had such an impact on the city, The Evansville Courier & Press is hosting a celebration party for Ellis on Thursday, February 28, 2013.

You can read the entire article from The Evansville Courier & Press below:


By Carol Wersich, The Evansville Courier & Press
Published Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Bobby EllisEVANSVILLE — Like his counterparts at the Postal Service, over the past 53 years neither rain, snow, sleet, dark of night or even a mugging that left him bloodied stayed Bobby Ellis from his appointed rounds.

And during that time, Ellis’ strong work ethic and dedication to selling single newspaper copies from Downtown street corners, in cafes and other businesses and at the Civic Center served to inspire the many community residents who came in contact with him virtually every day.

Lately, however, Ellis’ customers and friends have missed seeing him, and for good reason: He retired at the end of2012 after more than five decades of employment as an independent carrier for the Evansville Courier Co.

During that time, he is believed to have sold more than 2 million newspapers and walked more than 150,000 miles doing it. Following his daily circuit, he would wear out a pair of Red Wing shoes every six months.

Often observed as a solitary Downtown figure in insulated coveralls and cap, shuffling along towing a newspaper cart, Ellis has been physically challenged nearly all his life. His reason for quitting selling papers, he said was he just wanted to have more time to care for himself.

Many folks in the community genuinely care about Ellis, who turns 71 on March 7.

When The Evansville Press shut down in 1998, former Mayor Frank McDonald II called a newspaper editor to make sure “Bobby” would be taken care of, it was reported in an article in the Evansville Courier several years ago.

When Ellis was robbed and shoved to the ground in 2006 by a bicycle bandit, there was community outrage, the article stated.

Bobby EllisEllis will be the guest of honor Feb. 28, when the newspaper provides a reception between 4:30 and 5:30 p.m. in honor of his recent retirement and approaching birthday. Open to his customers and friends, the reception will be in the Courier & Press Community Room at Heidelbach Avenue and Walnut Street.

Anita Ice, district manager of circulation for the Henderson Gleaner, is Ellis’ guardian.

She said he is as persistent and determined in paying his bills on time as he was showing up for work each day like clockwork.

“He enjoyed seeing his customers and friends everyday,

“He’d smile when some of them told him, ‘We’ll have to rent out Roberts Stadium (now torn down), your funeral will be so big because you have so many friends.’”

Bobby EllisDiane Acton, a circulation coordinator for the Evansville Courier & Press, said “Bobby has always enjoyed being around people, and he LOVES to be the center of attention.

“He has a child like enthusiasm for special occasions ... He has a huge heart and has always dreamed of being able to help those who have befriended him through the years.”

Acton said Ellis hasn’t always been the most patient person, and it isn’t beyond him to tell a little fib or two to get his way.”

Here is what some others who saw Ellis on a regular basis had to say about him:

“When he was still working, he came in every morning for breakfast, He’d say, ‘Where’s my coffee ... Do you have my juice.’ He’s kind of spoiled, but I was OK with that ... I love him.”

— Pam Jeffries of QP’s Carryout in the Caboose at the Curtis Building

Bobby Ellis“Bobby is such an inspiration ... So many in the community have helped him with eyeglasses, reading and other needs.”

--Kim Pike, co-owner of The Mattress Factory Showroom with her husband, Steven.

“Bobby has been a blessing in my life ... I think the world of him.”

-- Sam Tieken of O.P.O. Barber Shop

“Bobby knew how to take advantage of a warm place to catch a quick nap, and how to get rides to where he needed to go and free lunches. We miss seeing him every day, but we are staying in contact with him.”

-- Nina Lientz, AXIOM Marketing & Advertising

“I love Bobby’s sense of adventure and love for the outdoors. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen him at local outdoor events.”

--Jason Snader, AXIOM

“His innocence, his contagious joy, happy heart and childlike faith: You can’t help but be blessed to be around him.”

-- Lisa Verkamp, AXIOM

“Bobby stole my heart the first day I met him with those twinkling blue eyes. He always brightened my day and gave me encouragement, seeing him persevere in his circumstances.”