Beloved Sun Valley High School wrestling coach dies suddenly; community gathers for balloon release

A community in Delaware County is mourning the loss of a beloved father, husband, brother and coach who died suddenly on Friday. 

Tommy Ellis, 43, the longtime wrestling coach at Aston’s Sun Valley High School passed over the weekend after his family says he suffered an aneurysm late Friday in their Brookhaven home.

The Ellis family of Delaware County found comfort in the arms of loved ones in front of Crozer-Chester Medical Center Monday where their beloved Tommy awaits his final journey.

"Best father to our three girls and a father figure to so many with the community. He was a wrestling coach, mentor, a friend," said Stephanie Ellis, Tommy’s widow.

Described as a prankster who lived his life out loud, he was remembered in a balloon release at Sun Valley High School on Saturday.

Coaches often connect with their players, but those who knew Tommy best, say the bonds he formed with young people were deeply supportive and stretched well beyond athletics.

"He was very intense, demanding and I think he gave a lot of kids what they didn’t get at home," said Ernie Ellis, Tommy's older brother.

News of his passing drew well over 300 people to Crozer-Chester over the weekend.

At Sun Valley High School, where wrestling trophies shine in the lobby, and down the hall from the wrestling room where Coach Ellis dwelled, girls on the field hockey team, his daughter's teammates arranged flowers for his funeral.

"It was really like nobody gave it a second thought. We always understood that they were like family to us. This was the right thing to do, no question about it," said Kamryn Essaf, Field Hockey Co-Captain. 

Tommy Ellis was an organ donor, the family says. 

On Monday, as his body was transported to Philadelphia so others could benefit, mourners gathered at the hospital to honor Coach Tommy Ellis for his life and last journey.

"He’s living on through many people. Whether it’s someone getting a piece of him for research to help somebody else," said his widow.