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Jim Ellis Automotive co-founder Billie Jean Ellis passes away

Jim Ellis Automotive co-founder Billie Jean Ellis leaves behind a legacy of entrepreneurship, kindness, and perseverance

Billie Jean Ellis, co-founder of Jim Ellis Automotive and wife of the late Jim Ellis, passed away Saturday, Jan. 6, 2024, at the age of 89.

She died in her home state of Georgia, surrounded by loved ones at her Duluth residence. The family has not revealed the cause of death but have honored her passing with a gathering at the Peachtree Corners Chapel of Crowell Brothers Funeral Homes & Crematory on Tuesday, Jan. 9, and a funeral service at Johns Creek Baptists Church on Wednesday, Jan. 10. Today would have marked Billie Jean’s 90th birthday.

Born in Atlanta in 1934, Billie Jean led a successful career at Georgia Tech that lasted 17 years before entering the automotive space. She and her husband took a substantial risk in 1971 when they cashed her retirement check from the university and took on heavy debt to fund the family’s first dealership, a Volkswagen store based in Chamblee purchased for roughly $200,000. Under the couple’s leadership, the fledgling franchise would grow to include 20 storefronts across the state of Georgia, eventually becoming one of the most respected names in the retail automotive sector for its commitment to customer service and professional excellence.

Billie Jean was a cornerstone of both the family business and her community. A passionate philanthropist, she played a critical role in launching the Jim and Billie Ellis Foundation, founded in 2000 after the death of the couple’s second son, Greg Ellis. The organization has donated $50 million to local charities over the last 24 years.

In late 2022, Billie Jean would lose both her first son, Jimmy Ellis, age 67, and husband of 69 years, Jim Ellis, age 90, in the span of two months. She is survived by her two daughters, along with multiple grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Many of her descendants continue to work at the dealership group.

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Colin Velez
Colin Velez
Colin Velez is a staff writer/reporter for CBT News. After obtaining his bachelor’s in Communication from Kennesaw State University in 2018, he kicked off his writing career by developing marketing and public relations material for various industries, including travel and fashion. Throughout the next four years, he developed a love for working with journalists and other content creators, and his passion eventually led him to his current position. Today, Colin writes news content and coordinates stories with auto-industry insiders and entrepreneurs throughout the U.S.

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