The Life & Times of “Ken”………..
KENYA W. ELLIS
Kenya Wendel Ellis was born January 16, 1966 to the proud parents of Barbara Jean and Weldon Henry Ellis’s the youngest of eight children. Ken attended Clawson, Ralph J. Bunche, and Hoover Junior High, before the mental challenges and trauma of the violent death of one of his brothers and mentor “ Little Weldon” affected his education and his life.
His spiritual education began at home at an early age with his loving mother being his teacher. As a child, Ken was baptized and a member of Metropolitan Spiritual Church of Christ, under the leadership of his Great Aunt and Uncle Bishop Allen and Reverend Mother I. Willie Johnson.
Ken loved church and would go on to unite with Sacred Heart Church of Christ, that later became Metropolitan Eternity Community Church under the leadership of his mother and pastor Dr. Barbara J. Ellis.
Ken was loved and looked out for by all the people that knew him throughout the communities of North and West Oakland and Berkeley.
When you think of Ken you remember him as the “Can King” Ken would arise at the break of day to get his grocery carts lined up for work and he could go from one to twenty carts, all lined up and connected ready to go throughout the West Oakland streets collecting aluminum and plastic recyclables.
It was really something to see, Ken with 10 carts on each side of him loaded to the max with garbage bags full to almost bursting, and him in his white tee shirt, jeans, white Jordans , white towel, work gloves (Real Leather Work Gloves), and him pulling those carts with the strength of Samson while leading them like synchronized Snow Dogs to a sleigh down the middle of San Pablo Avenue. If a wheel was stuck Ken would stop and fix it, or if one of the carts was out of
place or off track he’d put it back in place. Ken knew what to do.
While on his job of recycling Ken would run into everyone and while driving through town you will remember an encounter or two, or three with Ken and your conversation would probably go something like this…….
Ken: Hey you still going to Church?
You: Oh yeah Ken God is good
Ken Yeah, Hows ya family?
You: Oh. everybody alright.
Ken: Can you give me five dollars?
You: I ain’t got five dollars Ken.
Ken: Well how ya been? Huh? You got two dollars then?
You: Let me see what I got Ken
Ken: Hey Hey! You got a cigarette? Hey You got some change? You Think you can buy me a beer ? ….Well why dontcha just gimmee what you got then.. I take a dollar ...
You: Naw Ken, no cigarettes, you know I don’t smoke! Ken, this is all I got
Ken : Yeah! Okay I’ll take that!! Thank you! Tell everybody I said hi!
You: You be careful out there Ken ! Watch them cars, Alright
Ken I’ll see you laterKen: Yeah! Tell’ em I said hi now!
And off he would go down the street wiping his forehead, sweat dripping and Ken pushing or pulling his carts full of recyclables.
Kens’ favorite music was old school R&B such as, Stevie Wonder, Gap band, Marvin Gaye Jackson 5, and Aretha Franklin. Now after a days work Ken would get home, clean himself up and use that whole bar of soap till it melted to a nub, plus all of the baby oil or his mother’s Crisco cooking oil , then there would be much fussing especially if his mother was about to fry some chicken!
Then you would hear Mother Ellis say “ Aww Ken... hhmmmm dogonnit Ken, you done used all my cooking oi?, hump hump hump! Hmmmm hmmmm”......and Ken would just smile looking …. Asking “When the chicken gonna be ready Mama? you frying chicken?”
Or the times when he would be stopping by his niece KiKi’s house you could hear her, calling out to her children, “Hey ya’ll hide the baby oil! Hide my baby oil! He loved to keep his shine on!
After a hard days work? Ken would settle back listening to his favorite radio station “KBLX” , pens in hand he would underline important quotes or stories he read from books , newspapers, and the Bible …..Or smoking his cigarettes and saving the butts preparing for another days work.
We are all going to miss Ken, all of the communities from Cypress Village, Chestnut Court, Meltzer Boys Club, the 24th Street Family, plus his extended families “the Nash’s, the Phillips, the Rollins, the Hayes, the Holmes, the Wilsons, the Blackwells, the Lacys and the Edwards.
Even if you didn’t see him that often Ken will remember everyone in your family…..
His essence, his soul, will be absent on this earth, and away from us here…
But know,…His soul is at peace now …... in the presence of the Lord and in his mother’s arms, for Ken truly missed his mother.
I am humble and gentle in spirit . Matthew 11;29
Ken was preceded in death by his brother Weldon H, Ellis Jr. (Little Weldon) his nephew Da’mon Jacobs, his mother Dr. Barbara J. Ellis, his father Weldon H, Ellis Sr., Nephews Daniel Ellis and Darrell Ellis Jr.
Ken is survived by his sisters Cynthia D. Ellis of Antioch, California, Benita M. Ellis -Welch (Charles), and Yolanda Ellis of Oakland California. His brothers Darrell Ellis (Vickie) of Stockton California, Donald “Poochie” Ellis of Oakland, California, and Bobby Ellis (Tina) of El Sobrante , California, One Great Aunt Doll McGhee of Mesquite Texas, Two Aunts Jessie Limbscomb and Mae Ellis of Oakland California. And that special niece Monisha “MO” Gaines. Plus a host of nephews , nieces, cousins and friends.