Lionel Ewell, 85, passed away peacefully on May 9, 2023, in his home on Knotts Island, North Carolina. Lionel is survived by his loving wife of 61 years, Janice, and their five daughters, Debbie, Sue, Linda, Amy, and April. He is also survived by his eight grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. He gave the best of everything that he was to all of them.
Born in 1937 in Princess Anne County, Virginia, to Henry and Elsie Ewell, Lionel grew up on the water and in the marshes of Back Bay. An avid hunter, fisherman, and trapper, Lionel worked as a hunting and fishing guide until the early 1970s. In 1975, he began his 34 year career with the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources as a Wildlife Biologist Assistant, managing the Princess Anne Waterfowl Management Area in Virginia Beach. Known fondly as “Mr. Back Bay,” Lionel was known far and wide for his understanding of the wildlife and the ecosystem of the Bay, and many a waterfowl hunter can attest to his advice that was taken like gospel. His time spent managing for the wildlife that he loved was a lifelong passion. Another passion of Lionel’s was softball, and he spent decades as a player and as a
coach. He followed the New York Yankees and the Washington Redskins religiously, through good years and bad. He loved hunting for arrowheads and metal detecting. After retiring, Lionel found a new pursuit in carving decoys, shorebirds, and songbirds. His joyful carvings bring a smile to all that treasure them.
With the passing of Lionel, comes the ending of an era. A time when 8-pound largemouth bass were commonplace bending the line in the late evening light. A time when ducks and snow geese came steady into decoys on icy winter mornings. A time when a man could walk miles along a trapline to support his family and never admit to being tired. “Mr. Back Bay” will be missed sorely by his family, his friends, and everyone who heard his stories, shared a joke and a twinkling of blue eyes, or learned respect for the natural world just by being in his presence. His family will mourn his passing privately. They send their heartfelt thanks to the nurses from the Albemarle Hospice Center for their care and compassion.