He crammed more into his 93 years than most would dare imagine for theirs. His first breath was drawn in Sierra Blanca, Texas, August 14, 1925; the last one in San Angelo, on December 17, 2018. In spite of the last few years, much of his life was a rich adventure.
A child of the Depression, World War II veteran, member of the Greatest Generation, Lion, mechanic, husband, father, grandfather, hunter and fisherman, and rock collector might begin to categorize him, yet miss fully describing him. His first employment occurred at about age 6 when sparse food on the table, and dirty hands steeled him for what was ahead. A valedictorian’s scholarship to Southern Methodist University at age 16 offered an option, but a few months later he went off to war with the United States
Navy to keep submarine-hunting PB4Y-2s flying. He married the love of his life, Jean Lewis, in England; at war’s end, she immigrated to America alone and pregnant with their first child even as Japan and China were his next naval assignments. By August of 1946, the Navy turned him loose to come home, meet his son and begin his career as a mechanic and owner of a Mobil service station, wrecker, and junk yard.
His life as husband and father began in a 6-by-16-foot trailer house; over the years he gradually built a fine and sprawling home which never seemed to stop growing even adding a swimming pool. About the time most people would retire, he sold his station and garage spending every penny on a new garage and rock shop located across the street. His fledgling interest in cutting and polishing rocks had been encouraged by a customer, H.L. Hunt, the oil tycoon. His garage was always a place people liked to drop by to hear him regale his visitors with stories and show them his stuff – the house, trophies, animals, artifacts, vehicles, and Lord knows what else.
When the lug nuts of his life began to loosen and wheels came off, Sierra Blanca took care of him. His church, Smokey and Lucy, and Camila and Scott played huge roles. A scruffy old angel appeared, extending the time he could live at-home, but even RJ was not enough to make it last. With a sense of heartache, he was moved into a nursing home in San Angelo in 2017. For the first time in more than a century, there were no Ellisons living in Hudspeth County. Ultimately his dementia deluded and blessed him into believing he was back home in Sierra Blanca.
Following 42 years of marriage, Jean died in 1987. Pearl Eleen became his wife in 1989 and they were married 24 years until she died in 2014. His younger son Bob died in 2001. He is survived by children Roger (Linda) Ellison and Virginia (Brian) Heffernan, as well as Charlotte (Ken) Wehmuller and Barbara (James) Sisemore who joined the family in 1989 when he remarried. A host of grandchildren and great-grandchildren carry his legacy.
Funeral services will be held at the Sierra Blanca Gym on Saturday, January 5 at 11 AM CST (his time) or 10 MST (Sierra Blanca time). In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you consider a gift to the First Methodist Church of Sierra Blanca or the Sierra Blanca Veterans Association. Arrangements by Harper Funeral Home of San Angelo.