Politically active even as a teen, Bluffton Mayor Ted Ellis followed the 1960 Kennedy-Nixon presidential election with enthusiasm. A Democrat, Ellis was on John F. Kennedy’s side and would follow the future president closely.
On Nov. 22, 1963, the 16-year-old Ellis was a high school junior sitting in a journalism class when the school’s intercom interrupted.
Everyone was just stunned, and things just stopped for us, Ellis recalls upon hearing that Kennedy was dead. There was a whole range of emotions from all of my fellow students, from not knowing what to say, to tears, to not being real concerned. It was just the whole gamut.
Ellis and his family watched the TV news through the weekend, catching the moment Jack Ruby shot and killed assassin Lee Harvey Oswald, Ellis said.
We just got home from church and I walked in the living room, turned on the TV and that’s the first thing I saw happen on Sunday.
Kennedy’s election signaled a change of generations. While incoming President Lyndon Johnson’s first speech to the nation was comforting, Ellis said, something was lost.
I wouldn’t say dreams were dashed, but you realized this was the end of something that was very, very good, in my mind.