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Epilogue | E.C. Lollis

Largo's 'Elvis' has left the building

LARGO — He couldn't drive a block without gawks.

He couldn't walk five steps without posing for a photo.

He couldn't eat lunch in peace.

Then again, neither could Elvis.

• • •

E.C. (it doesn't stand for anything in particular) Lollis grew up dirt poor in South Carolina. He was the oldest of 15 kids. Sometimes, he didn't even have shoes.

When he got old enough, he joined the Air Force. His confidence shot up. He realized he could look good. He could slick his hair back and wear pointy cowboy boots, jewelry and sunglasses. No need to be ashamed anymore.

Mr. Lollis played guitar and sang. He was outgoing, charming and caught the eye of ladies. While stationed in Maine, he met a young woman named Laura, who worked at the base in Civil Service. They had coffee together and played shuffleboard at lunch. They started dating. "Oh my Lord, is he handsome," she thought.

• • •

Around the same time, a poor Southern boy named Elvis Presley splashed on the music scene.

The comparisons came.

"I was copying Elvis before I knew there was an Elvis," Mr. Lollis would say.

Mr. Lollis served in the Florida National Guard and worked as a plumber. He also owned a barber­shop for eight years. It was a job where his flashy fashion fit in.

"He could dress up and look professional and cool," said Laura Lollis, 66. "If you grow up poor and you don't have all the nice things that other people have, you kind of aspire to that."

He collected swords. He owned 100 pairs of cowboy boots in every color. At one point, he owned 13 classic cars.

In 1990, he went to a car show at St. Petersburg's Biff Burger. A fuel company representative asked if he would act in a commercial as Elvis.

"That started it," his wife said.

• • •

He dyed his brown hair jet black and grew long mutton chops. He draped himself in lightning bolt necklaces. He wore rings on almost every finger.

He started appearing at parades and events. People vied to manage his career. He could make money, they said, if he started charging. Mr. Lollis refused.

He went to Las Vegas and posed on the strip. He signed autographs. He chatted with diners at his favorite place, Largo Family Restaurant, close to his home.

Cancer, diabetes and heart problems wore on his body.

He came to Largo Family Restaurant for a final time last week wearing black clothes and gold rings. His hair was styled.

Now the customers ask where Elvis went. Mr. Lollis died Monday. He was 73.

This year, Elvis Presley would have been the same age.


E.C. Lollis

Born: Sept. 25, 1934.

Died: May 5, 2008.

Survivors: wife, Laura Lollis; sons, Michael and Todd Lollis; daughters, Cherie and Jeannie Lollis and Brenda Alexander; many grandchildren and great-grandchildren; brothers, Thomas, Grady and Anthony "Mickey" Lollis; sister, Jennie Mendoza.

Services: 2 p.m. today at Moss Feaster Funeral Home, 13401 Indian Rocks Road, Largo.

Largo's 'Elvis' has left the building 05/08/08 [Last modified: Friday, May 9, 2008 8:59pm]
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