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Dick ellis

In Memoriam
Richard W. (Dick) Ellis
1942 - 2018 

Richard W. (Dick) Ellis, 76, died July 9 in Asheville, NC. Ellis was a senior partner of Ellis & Winters law firm in Raleigh, NC, from 2000 until his retirement in 2012. Prior to co-founding that firm, he was a partner with Smith Helms in Raleigh and Smith Moore Smith Schell & Hunter in Greensboro.

Ellis was a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers and a member of the International Association of Defense Counsel.

His partner Mike Winters said of Ellis, “Dick’s commitment to his clients and colleagues was extraordinary, exemplified by his work ethic and his genuine concern for, and interest in, others. His clients and adversaries held him in the highest regard for his integrity, dedication, professionalism, and legal skills, which were exceeded by no one. He also had a wonderful sense of humor. He was loved and appreciated by everyone who worked with him.”

His partner Alex Hagan said, “You will never find a more honest person. He always told us, ‘While it is easy to establish a reputation in the legal community, it is much more important to establish a reputation of integrity. It must be earned, and it is invaluable.’”

A long-time whitewater canoeing enthusiast, Ellis was a former board member of the Nantahala Outdoor Center, where he once worked as a raft guide and canoe instructor.

Ellis was a graduate of Fuquay-Varina High School and UNC-Chapel Hill. He received his J.D. degree with High Honors from UNC Law School. He was an officer in the US Navy from June 1964 to June 1966 aboard the USS Lindenwald.

He is survived by his wife, Evelyn Morris Ellis of Candler; his sons, Richard Ellis Jr (Susan) of Apex and Phil Ellis (Sherry) of Overland Park, KS; four grandchildren, Claudia, Aidan, Alex and Joel Ellis; and sisters Diane Millikan of Biltmore Lake, Donna Wilkes of Greensboro, Karen Gray of Durham, and Mary Ellis of Boulder, CO.

The family suggests that in lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Memory Care, 100 Far Horizons Lane, Asheville, NC 28803-2046.


Dick Ellis developed a broad range of complex litigation expertise, including the areas of business and commercial disputes, medical malpractice and product liability litigation. He often represented manufacturers and suppliers of pharmaceutical products and medical devices. He served as regional coordinating and trial counsel for a major pharmaceutical company in breast implant litigation. His background also included concentrations in the fields of antitrust and trade regulation, media and communication law, and representation of public interest clients.

Mr. Ellis was a longtime member of the North Carolina and national bar. He was also a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers. Mr. Ellis was a member of the International Association of Defense Counsel, and he was active in DRI.

Mr. Ellis received his undergraduate degree from the University of North Carolina in 1964 and his J.D. degree with High Honors from the University of North Carolina in 1969. While in law school, Mr. Ellis served as associate editor of the North Carolina Law Review.

Awards and Honors

  • Chambers USA: America's Leading Lawyers for Business®, "Senior Statesman" and "Leader in the Field" for Litigation, (2002-2012)
  • Benchmark Litigation, "Local Litigation Star" (2009-2012)
  • The Best Lawyers in America®, Litigation (2005-2010)
  • Business North Carolina Magazine, "Legal Elite" (2002 to 2012), in Litigation
  • North Carolina Super Lawyers Magazine, Litigation (2006-2012)
    • "Top 100 Lawyers" in North Carolina (2006-2012)
  • Peer Review Rating of AV® in Martindale-Hubbell