Bob was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio. He served in the U.S. Army. When he was discharged, he visited family in Phoenix and ended up staying to attended Arizona State College (now ASU). He graduated in 1953, with a degree in Speech. That same year he started working at Arizona’s first radio station, KOY, as an announcer. That’s where he met his boss, and future wife, Frankie. They were married soon after and had three children.
In 1959 he went back to ASU, which had just become a university. There, he helped lead the start of KAET, which was launched and went on the air in 1961, as part of National Education Television, supported by the Ford Foundation. KAET became a Public Broadcasting (PBS) affiliate in 1967. Bob was also involved with the Phoenix Television Academy, now the Rocky Mountain Southwest Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS), serving in many roles, including president. He remained at KAET as general manager until his retirement in 1989. Immediately after his retirement, he accepted a part-time assignment to work in the University Relations Office and eventually took charge of organizing university retirees into a viable force. Not only was Ellis a former staff member, but he also had served on the faculty and thus could represent both groups of retirees. He remained in this role for several years until his retirement.
Bob was inducted as a charter member of the NATAS Silver Circle in 1992 and is a past president of the chapter. He resides in Tempe, Arizona with his wife.