Donald "Don" Vernon Ellis of Belgrade, Montana passed away on December 20, 2019. He was born on March 4, 1936 at Nekoma, Kansas to Harry and Beulah Ellis. He was raised on a farm north of Rozel, Kansas. Don attended a one-room schoolhouse for the first six years, graduating from Rozel High School in May 1953. In August 1954, Don enlisted in the U.S. Army, serving during the Korean War. Don was honorably discharged in 1956 with the rank of Corporal.
Don married Carol Willis in LaCrosse, Kansas, on May 28, 1957. Carol passed away on January 14, 2014.
Don was a retired truck driver. He served many roles throughout his life; he was a farmer with his dad, a custom harvester, a father, a grandfather, and the role he cherished the most was a loving husband to Carol. He was a volunteer at Habitat for Humanity for four years. He was a Lifetime Member of the American Legion Post #106 in Lamed, Kansas, serving several terms as the Post Commander.
Don's passion has always been hunting, camping, and fishing. In the fall of 2019, at the age of 83, Don went for his last antelope hunt, killing two. Once again, he got in that last hunt that he never thought he would get to do.
Don and Carol followed their lifelong dream of living in the mountains when they moved to Missoula, Montana in 1984. They lived in Missoula before moving to Belgrade to be closer to their daughter after Carol suffered a stroke. Don has resided in Belgrade since October 2007.
Don is survived by his children, Don Jr. (Susan) of Youngsville, LA, Susie of Lake Charles, LA, LeAnna of Pawnee Rock, KS, and Stacey (Scott) of Belgrade. He has seven grandchildren, Stephen (Dawn) Ellis, Shannon Ellis, Grant (Shannon) Unruh, Odie (Nicole) Unruh, Marci (Chance) Maes, Marcus Allen, and Sadie Glaude; and 11 great-grandchildren, Madeline, Emily, Beau, and Henry Ellis, Hailey and Gage Unruh, Brogan, Tristian, and Ellis Unruh, Dahvon Pierce, and Allen and Zayden Groff. Don is also survived by two special friends that he has always thought of as his own kids, Tommy and Kathy Fitch; a brother, Harry (Carolyn) of Bozeman, MT; and two sisters, Judi Welch of Larned, KS and Sharilyn (Frank) Reifschneider of Wichita, KS; as well as his brother-in-law, Bob (Sue) Willis of Cookeville, TN, and many nieces, nephews, and cousins.
Don was preceded in death by his wife, Carol; parents, Harry and Beulah Ellis; in-laws, Harry Willis and Janet Smith; brothers, Leroy, Larry, and Ed; and brother-in-law, Lynn Welch; as well as sisters-in-law, Donna Claney, Tiney Tharpe, and Anna Johns.
A Memorial Service will be held at 11:00 A.M. on Friday, December 27, 2019 at Dokken-Nelson Funeral Service. Memorials for the Don Ellis Memorial Fund made be made to Stacey Ellis, c/o Dokken-Nelson, 113 S. Willson Ave., Bozeman, MT 59715; or to Habitat for Humanity of Gallatin County, 230 Arden Dr., Belgrade, MT 59714.
Arrangements are in the care of Dokken-Nelson Funeral Service. www.dokkennelson.com