A Lake Diversion resident took his life Tuesday afternoon and according to authorities he left a note saying “Stan you took my home.” Apparently, referring to billionaire sports team and real estate mogul Stan Kroenke.
Less than three months ago, the new owner of Waggoner Ranch gave residents at Lake Diversion an eviction notice telling them they had until the end January next year to be off the property.+
According to the Wichita County Sheriff’s Office, the body of Rick Ellis was found Wednesday morning in a remote area on the Wichita River Northeast of Lake Diversion.
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A friend said he was not surprised that a resident would take his own life, because for many of them, their whole reason for living was their homes on the lake.
“He was a family man,” said Robert Smith, a friend of Ellis. “He worked hard every day and he was compassionate. And he helped others when he could.”
Friends of Ellis, like Smith, say his death was a tragedy and they hope future tragedies can be prevented for people who planned to live the rest of their lives there, and have no where to turn to for help.
“I did expect something like this to happen,” Smith said. “And I do believe this is not the last tragic news we’re going to hear, because there are elderly, disabled people out there that have no where to go and no money to do anything with and are going to turn to that option.”
Smith has lived out at Lake Kemp for a little over a year, on land also now owned by Stan Kroenke. He said its been a stressful time for residents there, too.
When he heard about Lake Diversion residents being forced to leave, he reached out to Ellis and his wife Annette…they’ve been friends ever since.
“They lost all hope when they lost their house and now they don’t even have hope. Lost her husband, that’s two things in one year. And that’s pretty tragic for her to even endure that by herself. It’s going to be very tough for her. He didn’t have any insurance, she doesn’t have the money for burial expenses. She doesn’t have the money to move. She doesn’t have the money to do anything. She’s just at an impasse where she doesn’t know what she’s going to do from day to day.”
And Smith said he wants the new owner of the Waggoner Ranch to understand what may have been an easy decision for him, impacts real people in ways he can’t understand.
“What the man doesn’t realize is what he is doing is affecting not only the direct family, but everybody else,” said Smith. “We have to wonder whether or not we’re going to lose our homes. Yes, he is a billionaire and what if someone just came one day and said we’re taking the Rams away from you. How would he feel. Our homes aren’t much, but it’s all we have.”
We also got a comment from Lake Diversion Cabin Owners Association Vice President Kelly Sadler.
She said, “It’s sad that people like Stan do not even think of the consequences of making a buck at the expenses of others. At what point do you say enough. Rick was a nice caring southern man trying to live in peace.”
And Lake Diversion and Lake Kemp residents have come together to help Annette. For more information on their efforts, click here.