- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 28, 2017

WILSON, N.C. (AP) - William “Bill” Ellis, whose barbecue restaurant became an institution across eastern North Carolina, has died at age 83.

Mickey Grizzard of Joyner’s Funeral Home said Ellis died Monday of natural causes.

Ellis spent more than 50 years changing a small hot dog stand into a community mainstay that included a catering business. He worked as an electrician, U.S. Army medic and waiter at Parker’s Barbecue before he took $500 and opened a hot dog stand in 1963.

Within two years, Bill’s started catering, spreading his barbecue across the state, the country and the world. His restaurant flooded twice, once after Hurricane Floyd in 1999, and again after heavy rains last October.

Ellis is survived by his wife, Tracy, two children and six grandchildren. A funeral is scheduled for Thursday.

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