Donald J. Ellingson, 89, died Wednesday, August 10, 2022, in Eventide on Eighth, Moorhead, MN.
Donald Juleen Ellingson was born December 28, 1932, in Wolf Point, MT, the son of Emil and Nita (Smith) Ellingson. He grew up and received his education in Ulen, MN, and Gary, MN, and graduated from Plentywood (Montana) High School in 1950. Don attended Moorhead State Teachers College in Moorhead, majoring in Vocal Music and Elementary Education, graduating in 1955.
After graduation, Don taught 5th grade and music in Glenwood, MN, and then entered the US Army. He completed basic training at Fort Dix, NJ, and was then stationed in Brindisi, Italy, as a supply clerk. Upon completion of his service, Don moved back to the States and taught 5th grade at Washington Elementary in Moorhead.
In 1959, Don was selected for a teacher exchange program in Hawaii, on the island of Kauai. Once there, he was introduced to another teacher, Marilyn (Anderson) Savage, who was part of a local community theatre production.
Don and Marilyn were married at Lihue, HI, on December 22, 1963, and returned to Moorhead. Don taught at Washington Elementary School until 1965, when the family moved to Mogadishu, Somalia, where they lived and taught in an American school for three years.
In 1968, the family moved to Duluth, MN, where Don earned a master’s degree in Counseling from the University of Minnesota-Duluth. In 1970, they returned to Moorhead with son, Walter and daughter, Lisa, where Don again taught at Washington and Marilyn at St. Joseph's Catholic School. During that time, they also owned and operated a floral business, "The Flower Basket."
In the early 1970s, Don became the first elementary guidance counselor in the Moorhead School District, encouraging students to talk freely about their emotions, which earned him the nickname, “Mr. Feelings.” He continued to grow the program and eventually transferred to Robert Asp Elementary, before retiring due to Marilyn’s health needs. Don was a patient and devoted caregiver to Marilyn during her years with Alzheimer's, always encouraging others who were in similar situations.
He loved woodworking, especially using his bandsaw and scroll saw to create works of art for others. Don loved to sing, whether it was baritone in a gospel quartet (The Master’s Men) or sitting at his own piano with sheet music or chording along as he sang from a Broadway songbook. He was a kind and loving Papa to his grandchildren and great-grandchildren, often found sitting with them in a chair, reading book after book. He helped the kids with creative projects in his shop, making their own sculptures out of wood or painting masterpieces on an easel.
Don is survived by his son, Walter (Cathy) Ellingson of Gurley, AL; daughter, Lisa (Darin) Horner of Moorhead; sister, Shirley Huseby Ralston, and brother, Rodney Ellingson (Arlis), both of Pelican Rapids, MN; seven grandchildren, Geneva Ellingson of Gurley, AL, Valerie Wort (Joshua) of California, MD, Brendan Gallagher of Chicago, IL, Trevor Ellingson (Kristi D'Allesandro) of Kaneohe, HI, Victoria Ellingson of Huntsville, AL, and Olivia Simon and Jack Simon of Moorhead; five great-grandchildren, Kristen Wort, James Wort, Peter Wort, Ellie Wort, and Anna Wort, all of California, MD; sister-in-law, Rowena Cobb of Koloa, HI; and several nieces and nephews.
Don was preceded in death by his beloved wife, Marilyn; his parents, Emil and Nita (Smith) Ellingson; and brother, Leo Ellingson.
Visitation for Don will be Tuesday, August 16, 2022, from 5 – 7 PM, with a prayer service at 7 PM, in Korsmo Funeral Chapel, Moorhead. His funeral will be Wednesday, August 17, 2022, at 10 AM, in Bethel Church, Fargo.