Retired Echo Publisher Ellis C. Cuevas dies at 87

By JEFF BELCHER

Courtesy of the Sea Coast Echo

Long-time Sea Coast Echo Publisher Ellis C. Cuevas died late on Monday, July 12, after a long illness. He was 87 years old.

“Teacher, mentor and role model of the highest integrity, Ellis was all those things and much more to me,” Randy Ponder — who worked for Cuevas for many years before succeeding him as Echo publisher in 2001 — said Tuesday. “A humble and unassuming man, Ellis was known for his love of Hancock County and also for his signature Hawaiian shirts.”

Cuevas was a native of Waveland, born the eldest of four sons in 1934 to Robert Ellis and Magdalena Cuevas.

Ellis’s wife of 59 years, Lillian Jane Taconi Cuevas, died on March 8, 2020. They had no children, but many nieces and nephews of which they were very proud.

His family has resided on the Mississippi Gulf Coast for more than 200 years, and he was proud of his historic lineage, which he traced back to Juan de Cuevas, the fabled “Hero of Cat Island.”

Ellis Cuevas served in the U.S. Army from 1954-1957, and was assigned to the National Security Agency as a cryptographer.

Upon being honorably discharged from the military in 1957, he began his newspaper career at the Echo, working in the composing room, darkroom, pressroom and circulation department.

In December of that year, he moved into advertising sales and was promoted to advertising manager in 1964.

He was made general manager of the paper in 1968, and promoted to publisher in May 1977.

In addition to his work with the newspaper and involvement with the Mississippi Press Association, Cuevas served the community in many capacities.

“Ellis Cuevas wasn’t just a good newspaper man, he was a dedicated community leader,” Tish Williams, executive director of the Hancock County Chamber of Commerce, said Tuesday. “His passion was beautification, serving for decades as chair of the Chamber Beautification Committee and Marine Debris Task Force. Ellis knew that a clean and beautiful community will be a prosperous community. He believed in Hancock County and put his passion to work through his newspaper columns, documenting the history of Hancock County. What a legend and community treasure!”

Over the years, Cuevas served at different times as president of the Hancock County Chamber of Commerce, president of the United Way of Hancock County, president and co-organizer of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Advertising Club, vice-chairman of the Hancock County Youth Task Force, president of the Bay St. Louis Rotary Club, and as a member of the Mississippi Extension Service’s national “Making the Grade” program.

In 1991, he was named the Hancock Chamber’s “Outstanding Citizen of the Year.”

Although he retired as publisher at the Echo in 2001, he continued to work part-time at the paper until 2018, writing news stories and his weekly “Cuevas Quotes” column, as well as advising and inspiring the Echo staff. He was also inducted into the Mississippi Press Association Hall of Fame.

As of press time on Tuesday, funeral arrangements were not yet complete at Edmond Fahey Funeral Home in Bay St. Louis. As soon as the details are available, they will be published at www.seacoastecho.com and on the Echo’s Facebook page.

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