World War II Veteran, Father, Pilot, Businessman, Inventor, Philanthropist, Ellis Hallman, died Sunday, November 15, 2020 at the Lebanon Veteran's Home where he had been a resident since 2017.
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He began his life in Payette, Idaho in 1924, the third child of Alfred and Maud Hallman. Growing up, he excelled in high school band playing the baritone. He carried on the enjoyment of playing it during his middle years in both the Shriner's and the Elks band.
Hands on projects were his forte. As a young person, he and a friend created their own two-way phone by stringing a wire across a neighbor's property. The inventive spirit was alive and well in Ellis even in his early teens. One time he came up with the idea of gluing large horse flies onto small balsa wood airplanes he had built, and the result was bug-powered planes buzzing all around the house.
When World War II was raging, Ellis enlisted in the Army Air Corps reaching the rank of Sargent. He became an airplane mechanic and a crew chief for P47 airplanes. He was very proud that every plane he maintained returned safely to the landing field on the island of IeShima in the South Pacific.
Just before leaving for duty, Ellis married Lois Georgeson in 1945. When he returned home the couple began their family completing it with 4 children: Jim in 1947, Stu in 1949, Barbara in 1951 and Steve in 1955. The family moved to Lebanon in 1950 for Ellis to manage the Lebanon airport. Later, he owned Ellis Body & Paint Shop & tow truck business.
Through the years, Ellis maintained his deep interest in the Lebanon Airport. He became a part time airplane inspector making sure the airplanes were ready for flight.
Each year, he helped promote the Lebanon airport's annual Fly In often with unique and ingenious methods. One example was in 1961 just after the first astronaut orbited in space. With the help of the local radio station, he advertised himself as the second astronaut; creating a supposed rocket 20 feet tall; painted silver and put on a flatbed truck. The “rocket” was really a balloon filled with helium. Before the “take off”, Ellis exited through a trap door under the truck. In time, “the rocket” took off spewing white flour as smoke. The radio reported the event step by step and people veered off the freeway to watch the event. Ellis, on his way to the Albany airport to hitch a ride back to Lebanon, used a walkie-talkie to speak over the radio station letting everyone know what he was supposedly viewing out the rocket's window. An hour later, he flew into the Lebanon airport, triumphant from his “trip around the earth”. Such was one of the joyful times Ellis created for the people of Lebanon.
Ellis constucted a World War II miniature jeep in the 50's that his children and grandchildren drove through the years in the Strawberry Festival & Albany Veteran's Parades. It is still operating today and kept in loving care by the family.
When the children were in their teens, and after a short stay in Arizona, Lois and Ellis divorced in 1966.
In 1967, Ellis married Betty Rose Durham Mainwaring. Betty's daughters, Julia, Sharon, Jeanette and Janice were added to his family. Eventually, Ellis's family grew to welcome 18 grandchildren, 20 great grandchildren and 18 great-great grandchildren. Ellis and Betty spent 43 years together remodeling an original farm house in Lebanon into their home and building an exceptional business in field body and frame alignment equipment. In this business, he used his engineering and drafting skills and created, with his son, Jim, a “Body & Frame Alignment Intstruction Manual” which became the standard in that trade.
In 2017, when he sold his house, the attic contained huge sets of designs for the installation he had drafted for the rapid transit headquarters in places such as Oakland, CA, Minneapolis, MN, Anchorage, AK and many other large cities and organizations. His last 2 installations were installed when he was nearly 90 years old. He was well known through the industry. If there was not a piece of necessary parts available, Ellis would draw up a set of plans and take the plans to North Fork Industrial in Lebanon to be manufactured to his specifications. His sales technique was not to go to the corporation managers, but to put on his overalls and go to the shop area of maintenance facilities and ask if there was any large transit vehicle that was unable to be straightened. Ellis would set up his equipment and straighten the transit vehicle leaving the shop personell to tell management supervisors that it was imperative to have the equipment that he sold.
Ellis had a full shop at his home and was well known for the beautiful wood crafts he created as presents for most everyone he met. Ellis also loved to dance. He and Betty were an elegant and talented duo. Sometimes Ellis would pick Betty up after her work and they would go to the Lebanon Moose Lodge for dinner and dancing. After Betty passed away in 2006, Ellis went dancing on Wednesday afternoons in Albany where he acquired a dance partner: Gaye. They danced at least 3 times a week together until late Summer of 2020 when Ellis became too weak to ride in the car to a dance.
He and Betty, with their family and friends and with Rebel, their tractor riding dog, loved to attend the annual campout/steamup at Antique Powerland in Brooks, Oregon of which they were charter members. Ellis attended every year from Powerland's beginning through 2019.
As a philanthropist, he donated to many worthy causes in Lebanon area; the latest being toward the building of the Samaritan Treatment and Addiction Recovery Home in Lebanon. He was a member of the American Legion, Elks, Masons, Shriners, Moose and Eagles; all of which benefitted from his generosity.
Ellis loved to visit with people. At the Veteran's Home, he was known for making his rounds and visiting all the available sections of the home plus daily visits to the office personell and head nurse's quarters. He was known and loved by many and will be deeply missed.
Preceded in death by his parents, Alfred & Maud Hallman, his sisters Ellyne & Lorraine, his wives, Lois & Betty, his son Steve, his step daugters Julia and Sharon, 3 grand children. and 1 great grandchild.
His life well lived, is celebrated by his children/step children Jim, Stu, Barbara & husband Ted, Jeanette, Janice and grandchildren, great grand children and great-great grandchildren, his personal bookkeeper and friend Merry; his 10 year dance partner, Gaye; plus innumerable relatives and friends.
The family asks that in lieu of flowers, you make memorial contributions to Samaritan Treatment and Recovery Services, in care of Huston-Jost Funeral Home, 86 W Grant St. Lebanon, Oregon 97355.
A celebration of life will be announced in 2021 at Twin Oaks Memorial Gardens. For more information, please visit www.hustonjost.com