Walter Thomas (Tom) Ellison, 86 years old, died quietly November 3, 2023 in Kalamazoo, a result of Parkinson's Disease, dementia, and other age-related challenges. Per his life values he donated his brain to the University of Michigan Brain Bank for neurodegenerative disease research and his remains were cremated.
Born and raised in Massachusetts he competed with siblings Eddie, Theresa, Patricia, Joan, Joseph, and Margaret. Wanting to see the world, he served in the US Air Force from January 1957 until January 1961 but never left Kansas and Nebraska. He did behave well enough to get a good conduct medal and honorary discharge. He then became a Cornhusker, completing his bachelor's degree at the University of Nebraska.
Then he did get to leave the US when he was hired by the American Red Cross for a 3-year assignment in Okinawa providing emergency help to American military forces during the Vietnam War and accompanied by his first wife and three children.
He remained with the Red Cross about 20 years expanding his work into Blood Services, Disaster Services and general management in various Midwest locations. In 1989 soon after moving to Michigan he worked in retail until 1991 when he took another overseas assignment with the Red Cross during Operation Desert Storm. Upon return he worked until retirement in facilities management at First of America Bank (now PNC).
Tom donated time, money and blood through the Red Cross when he could. In retirement he particularly liked transporting veterans to appointments at the VA and blood products to hospitals.
Notorious for his sense of humor Tom enjoyed nature, camping, fishing, canoeing, x-country skiing, visiting historical sites, road trips, coaching and refereeing soccer and attending team sport events. He had homing pigeons as a child and in 1997 raised Pickles, a runt pig, that grew to 452 pounds and liked sharing a beer.
No formal services will be held. A casual opportunity to share memories and snacks will be held Saturday, December 9 from 1-3pm at the American Red Cross, 5640 Venture Court, in Kalamazoo. Memorial contributions to the Red Cross would be a nice way to honor Tom...and, if you can, keep donating blood and a little time to local charities.
Ofield Funeral Home.com
4500 Kalamazoo Avenue SE
Kentwood, MI 49508