Biography of Skip Ellsworth
Fifth Generation Log Home Builder
DeWelle 'Skip' Ellsworth was a fifth-generation log homebuilder. His great, great grandfather built a log home in Nasua, Iowa back in 1853. Skip benefitted from four generations of accumulated knowledge of log home building, and went on to develop the modern butt-and-pass method of log home construction. Ellsworth taught log home building for fifty years, initially through the University of Washington's Experimental College, and later through the Log Home Builder's Association, which he also founded. He developed methods of construction and teaching that are so simple that he distilled it all into a two-day class (twenty-two hours of instruction), from which anyone could understand it and build their own log home.
Ellsworth's 7,000 square foot log home, on a small ranch near Seattle, was used as a set for "Northern Exposure," the 1990-95 television series supposedly set in Alaska. The house was the "log mansion" owned by the character Maurice Minnifield, a retired astronaut played by actor Barry Corbin.
Interestingly, Skip Ellsworth was Bruce Lee's third Kung Fu student in America and maintained a lifelong connection with Lee. Ellsworth's interest in fighting grew out of necessity. As a white kid on an Indian reservation in the mid-1900s, Ellsworth faced the resentment of the native people who blamed whites for destroying their culture. He had a paper route, delivering the Duluth Herald, and which took him into unfriendly neighborhoods on a daily basis. He got into fights almost every day, becoming intimately familiar with the mental and physical aspects of fighting. He learned to stay calm, no matter how bad the situation was, and how to become friends with pain.
At the age of sixty-eight, Ellsworth married Belle, a woman forty years younger than him. With a newborn baby, plus custody of his son from a previous relationship, Skip and Bell moved to the Philippines where Ellsworth "retired," and among other things, went backpacking through the jungles and swamps of southeast Asia, keeping up with guys half his age.
The building method that Skip Ellsworth pioneered is still taught through the Log Home Builder's Association by Ellsworth's son... a sixth generation log home builder.
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I took Skips class back in the mid 80's, along with two of my brothers. I am just now going to build in Colorado. I will be using the butt log method. I have traveled a lot over the years but I have always considered him a friend and mentor. I was not aware that he had passed but I know he has had a positive influence on many lives.
With warmest regards to all who appreciated the willingness of Skip to give of his time and knowledge.