The Roundup -

Historian, Actor, Broadcaster Arch Ellwein Passes Away


October 10, 2018 | View PDF

Arch Ellwein, far right, with the Baker Street Irregulars played by, L to R, Liliana Johnson, Zariah Gonsalez, Italia Averett and Garrett Dodds.

The Voice of the Eagles and Teddy Roosevelt is silent. Arch Ellwein passed away Tuesday, October 2, 2018 after a lifetime of acting, teaching and broadcasting.

Arch started his career with KGCX, then did play by play of football, basketball, volleyball games and wrestling meets for Power 95 beginning in 1995. J.R. Greeley, marketing manager for Cherry Creek Media, said Arch was a real cheerleader for the Eagles and could make any sport an exciting event with his captivating, old-school style. He didn't know all the players but it seemed like he did. Ahead of any game, Arch would visit with the Eagle players and coaches as well as the opposing coaches, getting tidbits about the athletes and making sure he had the correct pronunciation of names. Greeley said that Arch was really excited to do both Fairview and Sidney homecoming games two weeks ago. It usually didn't work that he could do both but he provided the colorful play by play for the Warriors and Eagles that fans always enjoyed.

He could remember details from almost any game during his long career and enjoyed sharing stories with interested listeners.

Arch really wanted to broadcast the Eagles game in Laurel last Friday night and had visited with Sidney High School Athletic director Chris Lee, the coaches and players. He had also given Power 95 the name of someone in Laurel who could do the game in case he couldn't make it. There was some sadness at that game, and Arch would have really enjoyed providing gripping commentary for what was an exciting game where the Eagles played well.

Eagles assistant football coach and boys basketball coach Chad Quilling has a lifetime of memories of Arch, beginning when he was quarterback for the Eagles football team. "Friday nights before a game, he would come and talk to us and the coaches. He was happy to be there, intermingling with us kids. And it wasn't just Sidney, but all the local kids. He is irreplaceable," Chad stated.

Chad's parents, Paul and Susie, would record Arch's play by play from the radio during playoff games and they would all listen to it the next day. "It was amazing just to listen to him," Chad said. "It was unbelievable how he could call a game." After graduation, Chad would often listen to the Eagles games. "It felt like you were right there. He was a talented man who spent years perfecting his craft. He kept you wanting to listen even if the game was a blowout. There was no dead air space. He was as good as anyone on TV now and probably could have gone bigger but he liked our community and we're really glad he stayed."

But there was so much more to Arch than radio and games. His love of kids and acting led him to start Footlights and Greasepaint Theatre Camp over 25 years ago. Each summer, he would gather a group of aspiring actors aged 9 to 15 and spend a week sharing his knowledge. Fifteen year old Liliana Johnson started participating in the theatre camp at age nine and has too many favorite "Arch moments" to pick just one. "Everything about him was special," she said. Her favorite part of camp was the final production. "We would be joking and having fun even though we were nervous. Arch would be really excited and full of energy." She added that Arch taught them the difference between pretending and acting. "If you were pretending, you were still yourself just doing lines. Arch would come over and all of a sudden he wasn't Arch anymore, he WAS the character he was playing."

Liliana enjoyed all the plays but The Baker Street Irregulars was one of her favorites. She played the male lead. "It was interesting to be able to do that. It was a fun murder mystery."

Arch also taught the kids Improv, which stood them in good stead during performances when someone forgot their lines or took longer changing costumes. It's also a life skill those kids will always be able to use.

The camp has had a strong, core group for the past several years, with some of the kids aging out this year. Without Arch the future is uncertain but Liliana said they may decide to get together, find a play and do it themselves.

Heather Johnson also enjoyed participating in one of Arch's Dinner Theatre productions not long after she returned to Sidney. It was her first direct experience with Arch and she was amazed at his ability to ad lib throughout the performance. "He could fix whatever went wrong with the rest of us and could just carry a show," she said.

Arch was a staple at the Missouri Yellowstone Confluence Center. Site Supervisor Kerry Finsaas and Assistant Site Supervisor Deb Crossland had the following to say about him.

Arch started working for Fort Buford in the early 2000s. He worked as a historical interpreter, greeting visitors at the Field Officer's Quarters with a friendly handshake and a smile. Arch always wore his site shirt with his name and his wide brim hat, which I felt was his signature headgear. It wasn't Arch if he didn't have it on.

We have gotten a lot of comments from people that had seen Arch. One from Switzerland wrote. "I've just returned back home in Switzerland after an unforgettable journey through the States. For your information, I'd like to let you know that my visit at Fort Buford was amongst those places that I combine with my best memories. I especially will never forget the tour at Fort Buford with your guide Arch that was impressive to me. Just memorable how Arch brought the past alive and how well he understood to tell of events in a spirited manner as if they happened yesterday."

Arch did the majority of history alive presentations for our site. Some of the characters he portrayed were Steamboat Captain Grant Marsh, Buffalo hunter Vic Smith, Lewis and Clark's Sargent Ordway, Wagon Train Master James Liberty Fisk, and the 26th president Theodore Roosevelt. He also did history alive presentations for many conferences and conventions throughout Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Minnesota.

Arch also did programs on theatre makeup during our cemetery walk, he sometimes portrayed George Fluery at the cemetery or read ghost stories from North Dakota and Montana. Arch conducted school tours from the area schools with emphasis on Sitting Bull and his surrendering his rifle at Fort Buford. Arch also served as a judge at the Science Fair at East Fairview School and talked to the kids about Lewis and Clark.

He toured the Midwest states presenting school assemblies on science and electricity and theatre makeup.

One of Arch's highlights was when he traveled to Roosevelt's home on his birthday and dressed up as Theodore Roosevelt.

Ellwein protraying James Fisk at the Confluence Center. (Photo submitted)

Arch will be so missed here. He was a valuable employee. Always willing to help in any way he could. We always counted on him and he was there. He was fun to talk history with and fun to see what he was reading next. He would walk around the rotunda reading from a book. He not only read but he acted that book out in character. Sometimes he would read lines out loud here when he was learning a new play.

About seven years ago, Arch combined his love of history with a lifetime of collecting treasures all over the country and opened Flyin' Lion Antiques in the Yellowstone Marketplace. Customers would come, many of them weekly, just to talk with him and probably purchase a bit of history. "He had a story lesson for every little product he had in the store," Marketplace owner Russ Wells said.

Arch was widely known far beyond the MonDak region and had recently been in Phoenix where he recorded a program for the Travel Channel, which will air early next year.

Rest in peace Arch. This community will miss you.


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