DURHAM: Louis Shelton Ennis, 86, died Wednesday in Croasdaile Pavilion after a gradual decline over the last year. Shelton was one of eight children, born November 17, 1930 in Harnett County to Euminese and Minnie Ellen (Lee) Ennis. Raised near the town of Coats, he learned hard work at an early age helping operate the family farm.
Shelton became interested in Undertaking through his friend, the late Jimmy Rose, at what was then Rose & Graham Furniture Store & Funeral Home in Benson. He graduated from Gupton-Jones College of Mortuary Science in Nashville, TN, and began his first job with Mitchell Funeral Home in Raleigh. He joined Durham’s Hall-Wynne & Co. in 1957, eventually acquiring stock and serving as Vice President until 1992.
In little time this self-made man became a model citizen of leadership, immersing himself in the civic and social life of Durham. He joined First Baptist Church, engaged in local service organizations, and enjoyed ballroom dancing for many years. He married Winona “Winnie” M. Ennis in 1980. Besides his business career, Shelton’s greatest love was volunteer work.. He served on several committees of the Chamber of Commerce and was active with Durham Sales & Marketing Assn., though his foremost commitment was to the Durham Exchange Club. Mr. Ennis worked tirelessly over decades to support Durham’s Exchange Club Industries and the Child Abuse Prevention Center. He also was the driving force behind the start-up of the Exchange Club of Greater Durham. His goal was to remain on the DECI board for 50 years, which he accomplished prior to his death. In addition to being club president, Shelton earned the distinction as Exchange Club Member of the Year and was honored with the Book of Golden Deeds for volunteer service.
Mr. Ennis never fully retired from the vocation to which he dedicated his life. He assisted at funerals until his health diminished, and in his later years, grew gracefully into the role of mentor and wise advisor to the owners and staff of his company family.
Shelton Ennis exemplified lifelong service to humankind. As one who did not live aloud but rather with quiet dignity, his behind-the-scenes efforts and anonymous backing of disadvantaged youth are among his many kindnesses that have enriched the wellbeing of his beloved Durham. When Shelton sensed or learned of a personal need, he would find a way to meet it. A conscientious funeral director, there was no limit to his sacrifices for hurting families to ease the burdens of grief. Shelton always kept his humble beginnings in sight, and Harnett County – “down home” as he called it, was dear to him as was his close-knit family to whom he remained loyal. He had the genuine heart of a servant…and he never counted the cost.
Shelton was preceded in death by his wife, Winnie, along with his seven brothers and sisters. He is survived by many nephews and nieces, scores of friends and his devoted Hall-Wynne family, who mourn his passing while giving thanks for his generous and productive life.
Funeral services will be 11:00 AM Tuesday from First Baptist Church. Friends may visit in the church one hour prior to services. Graveside rites will be 11:00 AM Wednesday in Coats Cemetery. Gifts in Mr. Ennis’ memory may be made to DECI, 1717 E. Lawson Street, Durham, 27703 or Exchange Family Center, 3708 Lyckan Pkwy, #103, Durham, 27707. Memo line, “Shelton Ennis.” On-line memorials: hallwynne.com