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Memorial Service

First Baptist Church - Otsego
Saturday August 22nd, 2020

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James Leon Ellinger

Jim Ellinger was a loving husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather. Active throughout his life, he treasured his years serving the community he loved. Living his life to the fullest and enjoying the company of each and every person who came his way, he leaves behind a rich legacy of accepting all people with compassion. His warm personality, genuine friendship, and loving ways will be deeply cherished by his many special friends and loved ones. The 1930s were significantly impacted by the effects of the Great Depression. Banks were still closed but there was a promise of a new election year awaiting. During the middle of one of the toughest decades in American history, Rollie and Mary (Chapman) Ellinger welcomed home the arrival of their newborn son, James, on April 2, 1931, in Plainwell, Michigan. His birth brought them both great joy during tough economic times. As a young child, Jim lived a typical childhood of the times. He was always on the go and enjoyed spending a large part of his day outdoors. He loved to ride his bike, as well as hunting and fishing on Pine Lake. An avid tinkerer, he spent time building and flying model planes with his close friend, Vern Campbell. Although he enjoyed playing football and marching in his high school band, he also loved listening to radio shows and his Uncle Russell re-enact the crime of the week in Plainwell. As a teenager he played the coronet at church. One Sunday while playing at Otsego Baptist, he met the woman who would change the course of his life forever, Jean Parrish! Hitting it off right from the start, the two of them dated through high school and while Jim was in college at WMU. The happy couple married on June 12, 1953, at the Otsego Baptist Church just one day before Jim graduated with a bachelor’s degree in accounting. They settled in Rochester, Michigan where Jim accepted his first job with Michigan Bell Telephone. Just months later on November 10, 1953, Jim answered the call from Uncle Sam and was drafted into the U.S. Army. He left for basic training in Ft. Knox, Kentucky and proudly served for two years. During his time, he attended finance school at Ft. Ben Harrison in Indiana. He later ended up at Ft. Meade, Maryland serving in the finance company for the 2nd Army, paying troops coming back from Korea and nearby military bases. He was honorably discharged in November of 1955 and he and his wife relocated to Kalamazoo. They lived in the Milwood area for a couple of years, then built their family home in Portage in 1960. They enjoyed their years there making many lasting friendships with their neighbors. Their son Jeff was born in October 1962 and later Jennifer in February 1967. Sadly, Jimmy and Johnny were born in 1958 but both passed away shortly after birth. Always a steadfast provider to his family, he took work with Ernst and Ernst. Earning his CPA, Jim went on to work a long career with auditing firms in the area including Bauman, Wilson, and Tans, and later BDO Siedman. He loved fraud investigation work and a couple of times his knowledge in the field was needed as an expert witness for the IRS. In addition to his work life, Jim lived a life of great faith. He and Jean attended Grace Baptist Church in Portage. He read his Bible daily and also read and studied many books about the Bible. They raised their family with a deep appreciation for faith and the good works of the Lord. Jim leaned on prayer throughout his life and always put things out of his control in God’s hands. As a family, they enjoyed many years spending vacation time together on Spider Lake near Traverse City. Years later, Jim and Jean purchased a cottage at Pine Lake and spent many years enjoying family time there. Jim continued his passion for hunting and fishing and shared his talent with his son and grandchildren. He and Jean were active in a local travel group and made trips all over the United States. They savored these friendships and made many lasting memories. While the kids attended Portage Public Schools, Jim proudly served over fourteen years on the School Board, with most of that time as President. A family man, Jim loved to watch his grandkids participate in soccer, baseball, or football. He was happy to cheer them on throughout their lives. When it came time for relaxation, Jim enjoyed watching old westerns and war movies. He often stayed up late on Saturday nights causing him to occasionally nod off during Sunday service! Sunday afternoons were known for long naps where Jim would claim he was only checking out the inside of his eyelids if anyone came into the room and tried to change the game on TV! Jim lived his life in service for others. There wasn't anything he wouldn’t do for someone in need. He modeled a lifetime of being a faithful servant who loved others. May his memories bring comfort to his many close friends and family and may they never doubt the immense love he held in his heart for each and every one of them. Jim Ellinger went home to be with his Lord and Savior on May 6, 2020 at Advantage Living in Battle Creek, Michigan. Jim was preceded in death by his parents, Rollie and Mary; twin sons, Jimmy and Johnny; his brother John; and wife, Jean. Jim is survived by his son, Jeff (Marissa) Ellinger of Richland; daughter, Jennifer Ellinger of Portage; grandchildren; Beth (Chris) Nicolich of Battle Creek; grandson, Gregg Ellinger of Detroit area; grandsons, Sam and Noah Ellinger of Richland; great-grandchildren Addison and Kellan Nicolich of Battle Creek; and sister in law, Bonnie Ellinger of Plainwell; along with many special nieces and nephews. Jim was laid to rest at Hillside Cemetery in Plainwell with a private family service. Memorial contributions may be made in memory of Jim to Park Village Pines of Kalamazoo, Hospice Care of S.W. Michigan or the Kalamazoo County Humane Society.

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We cherish the memories we had with Jim and Jean over many years of friendship. They were such a loving couple and so caring. Always ready to help and encourage anyone who was in need. Now Jim has joined Jean in their new life with Jesus. Our love and prayers are with the family. Marv and Marlene VanTuyl

Marlene VanTuyl May 8 2020 9:54 PM