William David Ellis was born in Ashland, Kentucky, on July 13, 1913, son of William Franklin and Mary (Bester) Ellis, both now deceased. He attended Washington and Lee University, Lexington, Virginia, from which he received the degree of Bachelor of Arts in 1937. During the period of 1936 to 1940 he coached football and basketball at Washington and Lee, and for the next year was Principal of a public high school in Douglas, Georgia. Prior to entering active Naval service he was a Traveling Salesman for the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company of Akron, Ohio.
Appointed Lieutenant (junior grade) in the US Naval Reserve on May 14, 1942, he advanced periodically in rank, attaining that of Captain, Supply Corps, to date from July 1, 1959. He transferred from the Line of the US Naval Reserve to the Supply Corps of the regular Navy on August 20, 1946.
After receiving his commission, he reported in July 1942 for active duty as a student at the Naval Training School, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire. Two months later he was assigned as Regimental Commander at the Recruit School, US Naval Reserve Aviation Base, Hutchison, Kansas and in December 1942 became First Battalion Officer at the Naval Air Station, Hutchinson, Kansas. He continued duty at the Hutchinson Air Station, serving from March to November 1943 as Assistant Officer in Charge of the Cadet Regiment.
After instruction at the Naval Air Navigation School, Hollywood, Florida, in March 1944 he joined Carrier Aircraft Service Unit FIFTY-FOUR as Personnel Officer and in March of the next year transferred to Combat Aircraft Service Unit (F) SIXTY-NINE to serve as Executive Officer until October 1945. He was next assigned as Demobilization Officer on the staff of Commander Fleet Air, West Coast and during May and June 1946 was attached to the staff of Commander Naval Air Bases, Sixth Naval District with headquarters in Charleston, South Carolina.
During the period June to August 1946 he was undergoing processing for release to inactive duty and was on terminal leave when he received his commission in the Supply Corps of the regular Navy. Assigned in August of that year to the Naval Supply Depot, San Diego, California, he remained there for three months, and in December reported for instruction at the Naval Supply Corps School, Bayonne, New Jersey. In June 1947 he reported as Supply and Disbursing Officer on board USS Sicily and in January 1949 was detached to serve as Material Group Officer, later Control Department Officer, at the Aviation Supply Depot, Naval Supply Center, Norfolk, Virginia.
From August 1950 to June 1951 he was a student in strategy and logistics at the Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island, after which he was attached to the staff of Commander Amphibious Force, US Atlantic Fleet, as Assistant Logistics Officer and Assistant Supply Officer. In July 1954 he reported as an Instructor in the Logistics Division, Armed Forces Staff College, Norfolk, Virginia, and in July 1956 became Officer in Charge of the General Supply Depot at the Naval Supply Center, Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii.
He was Planning Officer and Comptroller at the Naval Supply Depot, Clearfield, Utah, from June 1958 until June 1959 and is now in command of the Naval Clothing and Textile Office, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Captain Ellis has the American Campaign Medal; European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal; World War II Victory Medal; and the National Defense Service Medal.