Ellis B. Mascareno, aka “Eliseo de Arizona.”

September 2, 1937 – March 7, 2020. 

Ellis B. Mascareno

Youngest son and namesake of a lumberjack and his bride, Josefita, he left the sticks of Springerville, and headed for the big city of Phoenix at the tender age of fifteen, where he holed up with Cresencia and Patricio, his equally hilarious brother and sister. Their siblings Marcellino, Antonio, Esther, Florencia, Beatriz, Eulojio, Guadalupe, and Delia were scattered throughout the southwest. Being a brainy kid, he quickly realized that although he swam like a fish, he aspired to be more than a just a tanned pretty face in the lifeguard chair.

The late 1950’s marked the first great wave of nerd chic, and he craftily exploited the US Air Force and General Electric into bankrolling his future as this country’s premier engineer of fluorescent light bulbs. On the weekends he spun platters on campus and developed a lifetime love of music. Occasionally he made noise with a guitar. The first of Eliseo and Josefita’s 14 kids to go to college, he went from launching missiles in New Mexico to the mean streets of Philly.

It was there that he built his first boat, an event which would come to affect every warm, windless day for the next half century. After rambling around the northeast for a few years at the behest of GE, he found himself landed in the tony town of Cleveland, Ohio. It was there, on the golden shores of Lake Erie, that he met The Sheila, the nurse who would become his muscle car co-pilot and camping companion. They detoured to Bucyrus, the Bratwurst Capital of America for few years in the early 1970s, his engineering acumen also being needed there.

Apparently, the brats weren’t just in the beer garden, because when they headed back for Cleveland in 1977, the back seat of Sheila’s Cutlass had a couple of rug rats in it. Brian was dressed up in his best plaid pants and Vicki probably had a dirty diaper. Ellis was blissfully ignorant of any of these events as he cruised north, top-down, lookin’ good, in his green 1968 Corvette. A car, it must be mentioned, that he traded in late 1982 for a baby-crap-brown full-size station wagon. Such a cruel and mysterious decision! Many family adventures were undertaken in that wagon with summers filled with water-skiing and campfires and the requisite trips to Yellowstone and Daytona Beach.

The kids grew up and went to college and had careers and families of their own, although he had been concerned in the mid-80s that the boy might wind up in the pokey. The girl was mostly good. He enjoyed watching fireworks with the grandkids, Zam, Ebag, Revilo and Jo. His daughter-in-law Crystal, however, does not enjoy fireworks. Sheila and Ellis enjoyed their freedom when he retired early and got to see a good portion of the world. Spreading the gospel of duct-tape based repair solutions was a favorite pastime until the end of his days. His son-in-law Keith remains skeptical about it. There have been reports that he was the inventor of the “pull-my-finger” game. Being a former alter-boy, he was always nice to people and spent much time volunteering for many different organizations in his retirement. He wasn’t known as much of a drinker, but never turned down a margarita, or any other cocktail filled with tequila.

Smile for him, friends, because while it seems so obvious now, when Eliseo de Arizona stepped out of the one-room cabin where he was born, and the future was a question mark for him, as it is for us all, he was walking off into a life well-lived, and one to be proud of.

Ellis Mascareno’s daughter, Charlotte resident Vicki Nelson, has been a guidance counselor in Charlotte and with CVSD for many years.