Friday Ellis’s presence on the mayoral ballot may seem unlikely. He is the son of a sharecropper and spent his childhood in a sparse, two-bedroom house in rural Rayville, Louisiana. However, what their home lacked in luxury, it made up for in love. Ellis was raised in a single-parent household by his father, Oliver Friday Ellis Sr or as his friends knew him “Mr. Friday”. His upbringing was not extravagant, but Friday Sr. made sure that his son’s formative years were rich in other ways. Mr. Friday was a character—no question. He was the type of man whose presence could be felt immediately when he entered a room. He was larger than life. His charismatic smile was contagious, and he knew how to spin a tale that would captivate anyone within earshot. He looked out for his neighbor and never met a stranger. His generosity was well known in his community, and he treated all people with dignity and respect, regardless of their station in life. He led by example and lived with integrity. These are all traits he passed down to his son, Friday Ellis Jr.
Though Friday Ellis may be a carbon copy of the father he admired greatly, he is his own man. His steps are guided by the God he serves, and he has created a colorful life based on the principles and values he knows to be true. Educated in Rayville, he chose to settle in Monroe early on. It is in Monroe that he met his wife, Ashley Ellis. The two fell in love and never looked back. They married in May 2001, and like many Americans, their lives were greatly impacted by the tragedy of September 11. Just two months later, he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps because he knew his country needed those willing to serve. The couple lived in several locations around the United States while Ellis devotedly fulfilled his commitment to the Marines. They eventually settled in Monroe and continued building their careers and planning for a family of their own.
Ellis began work in Project Management for the City of Monroe’s Engineering Department, where he gained knowledge and understanding of the city’s infrastructure and operations as a Construction Inspector. This experience proved to be an invaluable education for Ellis and allowed him to gain a sophisticated sense of the resources, assets, and deficiencies within the framework of our city. Stepping out on faith, Friday pursued his passion for cigars and opened Governors Cigar & Pipe in the heart of Monroe’s historic Garden District. But Friday didn’t stop there, he traveled to Nicaragua, partnered with a well-respected cigar factory to produce a cigar line of his own — the highly sought after Governor and First Lady. His cigars have been sold to customers across the world.
Friday Ellis knew he wanted to build a family with his wife based on the same ideals and values that were instilled in him by his late father. Together, the couple has three children: Friday, III, Asher, and Aurie, who attend Monroe City Schools. Their sons arrived first, much to their delight. Ellis was elated at the idea of forming the same close bond with his sons that he shared with his father. “Being a father is my greatest station in life.” Although overjoyed with the children they were blessed with, their family was not yet complete. Ashley learned of a little girl in foster care who was in need of a forever family. Although her challenges were great, she immediately touched their hearts. Ashley and Friday felt certain that God had led them on the journey to adopt. “We knew she was our child,” recalled Ashley Ellis.
With open arms and hearts, they welcomed Aurie Ellis into their home. Her new siblings fell in love with their little sister, and their family was complete. Friday Ellis recalls dining at a local restaurant with the family and the waitress commented on Aurie’s beautiful curly hair. A huge smile appeared on her face. Without hesitation, she looked up at Ashley and said, “Yep! Just like my mama.”
The Ellis Family is living proof of the love and acceptance that we are all capable of through faith. These are values that Ellis is proud to instill in his family, along with a strong sense of social responsibility. He hopes to use these values as a foundation for the leadership he can provide to Monroe.
Ashley Ellis explains, “The most valuable tool for change is your willingness to serve and your unique story, and being elected to the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) is my way to ensure that all the children of our state are afforded the opportunity to the very best education. I believe education IS the ticket to prosperity.”
“Look, we aren’t afraid to do the heavy lifting,” he says. “I want to see Monroe go from a city of memories to a city of momentum.”
On April 4, citizens will be called to reaffirm their commitment to our city by choosing a leader for Monroe. Is our city measuring up? Or is it time to forge a new path ahead? Either way, residents will make a choice to determine our future. Monroe’s future is Friday.
Early Voting Dates: March 21-28