John “Jack” Ellison, Jr., 86 of Thief River Falls, MN died peacefully on Wednesday, October 12, 2016 at his residence.
Service to Celebrate John’s life will be held at 1:00 PM Friday, October 21, 2016 at Johnson Funeral Service in Thief River Falls, MN. Rev. John Golv will officiate. Burial at Community Cemetery, St. Hilaire, MN. Military honors by Ecklund-Holmstrom American Legion Post #117, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post #2793, & Minnesota Army National Guard Honor Guard.
John Francis Sagal was born on October 9, 1930 in Pontiac, MI to William James and Elizabeth Ruby J. (Gosskie) Sagal. He was adopted at birth to John Francis Ellison Sr. and wife, Kathryn Van Wagoner. John was called Jack during his school years and throughout his early life. He attended Pontiac Public Schools and then Lake Orion Public Schools in Lake Orion, MI, graduating on June 10, 1948.
John enlisted into service with the United States Navy on February 5, 1951 in Detroit, MI and served in Italy during the Korean War. He was Honorably Discharged on February 1, 1955 at the United States Naval Station, Washington D.C. Jack was awarded the Good Conduct Medal, Navy Occupation Service Medal and National Defense Service Medal.
Following his military duty, on September 20, 1955, John enrolled at Michigan State University in East Lansing, MI. He started in the engineering program and then entered Personnel Administration where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science Degree on March 24, 1959. He continued his education and graduated one year later with a Master’s Degree in Business Administration.
While at Michigan State University, John met his future wife, Barbara Alyne Eikamp and on November 30, 1957, the couple married in Lansing, MI. In 1960, they moved to New Brighton, MN and in November of 1961 moved east where John worked for Western Electric in downtown New York. While living in New Jersey, a daughter blessed their marriage in on July 5, 1967, Alane Barbara. He was transferred for a few months to Phoenix, AZ and returned to live at Somerville, NJ. On December 30, 1969 purchased The Record & The Valley View newspapers in East Grand Forks, MN. John was the owner, writer, photographer and editor. In 1983, the family moved to St. Hilaire, MN. In October, Barbara was diagnosed with cancer and died on June 24, 1984.
In the later 1980’s, John worked for the North Dakota Migrant Council by commuting to Grand Forks. In 1987, he served as Pennington County Veteran Service Officer until his retirement at the age of 70. Giving his time and energy to his fellow veterans meant a lot to John. In January of 1989, John started going together with Kathy Aune and the couple have been inseparable ever since. They traveled to many veteran conventions together throughout the United States, played Smear, threw darts, danced and enjoyed each other’s company. John was blessed with Kathy’s care for the last two years which allowed him to stay in the comfort of his home. His family was very grateful for that.
He was a member of the Ecklund-Holmstrom American Legion Post #117, life-member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post #2793 where he was a two-term “White Hat” Post Commander, Seam Squirrel & Grand Commander of the Fraternal Order of the Cooties, International War Veterans, and Disabled American Veterans.
John enjoyed playing basketball in his younger years and began coaching the CYO Program while living in New Jersey. In East Grand Forks, he coached elementary girls basketball for The Record Trojans. He was an intense reader, enjoyed crossword puzzles, watching football, singing, dancing, visiting with family and friends, collecting coins & postage stamps. He had a great sense of humor, and taught his grandchildren 4 songs: Smile When You Wake Up, Ballin’ The Jack, Tiddley Winkie Woo, & You Are My Sunshine.
Survivors include the love of his life, Kathy Aune of Thief River Falls; daughter, Alane (John) Ellison- Medicraft of Roseau, MN; grandchildren, Barbara (Christopher) Harwood of Roseau, MN, Kirsten Medicraft of Grand Forks, ND, Kathryn (Bryar) Klopp of Karlstad, MN, Clarissa (Nick) Kasprowicz of Grand Forks, ND, Annastasia Medicraft of Bismarck, ND, Ian Medicraft, Abigail Medicraft and Sarah Medicraft all of Roseau, MN; great-grandchildren, Emmalynne and Liam Harwood and Bethany Klopp; and biological father’s child in Canada,
He is preceded in death by his parents; grandchildren, Daniel J. & Francis A.; and siblings, Josephine Gilbert of Honolulu, HI, Virginia Hasson of Sherman Oaks, CA, Catherine Pickard of Los Banos, CA and Dorothy Morford of San Jose, CA.
Condolences may be sent at www.johnsonfuneralservice.com