Photo: Surrounded by school board members and administrators, Ralph and Joy Ellis are honored as the Irving Schools Stadium is renamed for them./Courtesy Photo
Irving ISD presented a very special tribute to two of their biggest supporters prior to the kickoff of MacArthur High School’s homecoming football game Friday evening, Oct. 28.
Joy and Ralph Ellis, a married couple who have made countless contributions to the school district and its many talented student athletes over the years, were surprised to learn that the Irving Schools Stadium would, from that night onward, be known as the Joy and Ralph Ellis Stadium.
The decision was made by a vote of the Irving ISD Board of Trustees back on July 25 and was revealed in a touching ceremony performed just before the homecoming game.
Steven Jones, president of the Irving ISD School Board, spoke about how he felt to honor the Ellises in such a public way.
“It’s incredibly joyous,” Jones said. “The Ellises are true philanthropists and givers. They are always looking out for everybody else. They have done more for the athletes and students of the Irving Independent Schools, than anybody else, with their scholarships over the past 40 years. Many, many students have been able to go to college because of the generosity of Ralph and Joy Ellis.”
Jones went on to talk about how fitting renaming the stadium after the pair is.
“It is really exciting to honor them in a way that will be here forever. I think it is very fitting that this stadium be named after them, to recognize their generosity over these 40 years to the students of Irving,” Jones said. “They didn’t give these scholarships to the best athletes necessarily, they gave them to students who needed the assistance and, without the help of the Ellises, probably wouldn’t have been able to go to college.”
After receiving the honor in front of hundreds of cheering students and parents, Ralph Ellis talked about how he and his wife Joy felt.
“It’s like nothing we’ve ever experienced before,” Ralph said. “It’s just the one-time deal. We don’t know what to say. What can you say? It’s extremely nice to be honored. It’s not overwhelming, because we’ve received other awards, but nothing quite as public and ongoing as this will be.”
Ralph Ellis then talked about the origin and history of the scholarship him and his wife provided that would eventually become known as the Joy and Ralph Ellis Scholarship for Athletes.
“Well, we started back forty years ago. Both our son and daughter graduated from MacArthur,” Ralph said. “When they graduated we just thought we would give four scholarships to the students of Irving. We had no idea how long we could keep it up. The way it’s turned out, we’ve lived long enough for one thing, because we’ve done it for 40 years, and it’s just been really nice to give these deserving students some extra money that will hopefully help them along in their college careers.”
Ralph Ellis also mentioned how big of a surprise this was for them.
“It was an absolutely astounding surprise,” Ralph said. “We had no conception that it was going to happen, or that we would ever be recognized in this fashion. It never even entered our minds. We only knew it when we were out there and they unveiled it.”
After the excitement, Ralph Ellis shared his thoughts on how the citizens of Irving should always work to share the success they themselves have been blessed with.
“Nobody knows when they are in High School, at a young age, how their lives are going to turn out. Our suggestion is, if your life turns out where you’re lucky enough, and prosperous enough that you can help somebody else, that’s what you ought to do. They should help those people, like they have been helped,” Ralph said.