Welcome to the memorial page for

Gene Oliver Ellison

September 24, 1927 ~ September 18, 2017 (age 89)

Gene Oliver Ellison, age 89, died peacefully after a lengthy battle with Alzheimer's Disease on Monday, September 18, 2017 in Modesto, California.


Gene is survived by his loving wife, Thelma ("Teddy"); daughter, Laura Kain-Mermis (husband Jerry Mermis) of Hollister; son, Kurt Ellison (wife Jacki Dunn) of San Rafael; grandchildren Sarah Kain Cowan of St. Paul, Minnesota, Reid Ellison and Ira Ellison of New York City; and great grandchild Delilah Kain Cowan of St. Paul, Minnesota. Gene was preceded in death by his mother and father, sister Lois Kautzman of Stanton, Nebraska, and brother Maurice Ellison of Oakland, California.


Gene was born September 24, 1927 to Bertha (Greve) and Herbert Ellison in Coleridge, Nebraska. Gene graduated in 1945 from Central High School in Sioux City, Iowa. He attended the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kansas starting in the fall of 1945, playing varsity football and working on the university newspaper. Gene was inducted into the Army in 1946 and was assigned to the U.S. Transportation Corps in Fort Eustis, Virginia. After being honorably discharged from the Army in 1947, Gene joined his mother and stepfather, Christopher Weisz, in San Francisco and in 1949 earned an Associate of Arts degree in journalism from the City College of San Francisco.


Gene transferred to San Jose State College in the fall of 1949, continuing to work on a journalism major where one of his professors was William Gould, his future father-in-law. Gene met his wife, Thelma Louise Gould, in a San Jose State biology class and they were married on June 30, 1951 in San Jose, where Gene began work for the Santa Fe Railroad sales office in 1950. He transferred to the railroad's San Francisco office in 1955, and later that year to the Fresno office where he became Office Manager. He accepted a transfer to Modesto in 1958.


Gene began his distinguished 31-year career for the Modesto and Empire Traction Company in 1961, where he was promoted to Vice President of Traffic. During his tenure with the railroad, he was instrumental in bringing many industries to the Modesto community in the Beard Industrial District. Gene served with numerous Modesto civic organizations, including two terms on the Stanislaus County Grand Jury, two terms as President of the Greater Modesto Chamber of Commerce, and President of the Sportsmen of Stanislaus. He also served on the Gould Medical Group Board of Directors.


Most important to Gene was his spiritual life of many decades at St. Paul's Episcopal Church and then Wellspring Anglican Church in Modesto, where he served in many leadership roles. Gene also enjoyed travel, playing and watching sports, attending San Francisco 49ers football games for over 30 years, and listening to jazz and classical music.


A memorial service will be held Saturday, September 30 at 1 PM at Wellspring Anglican Church, 1548 Cummins Drive, in Modesto. The family is very grateful to the staff of Pacifica Senior Living Memory Care and Optimal Hospice Care. Donations can be made to Shared Blessings Orphan Relief in Uganda, 1120 Tully Road, Modesto, 95350 or Wellspring Anglican Church

 Service Information

Memorial Service
September 30, 2017

1:00 PM to 2:00 PM
Wellspring Anglican Church
1548 Cummins Drive,
Modesto, ca 95350

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