Gary Lee Ellingson, age 67 of Moorhead, MN, went home to be with the Lord on Friday, October 11, 2019 at Farmstead Living in Moorhead.
Gary Lee Ellingson was born February 15, 1952 to Oscar and Olga (Larson) Ellingson of Thief River Falls, Minnesota. Gary was the youngest of four siblings: Harry, Orville, and Helen, with Helen being 24 years older. Gary’s father Oscar passed away when Gary was two years old. His mother Olga was 46 years old when Gary was born. Orville and Helen remained at home to help their mother care for Gary. Harry, who served in the Navy during WWII, settled in Long Beach, California after the War.
Gary and his mother regularly attended the Evangelical Free Church in Thief River Falls sitting in the same pew that had been purchased in honor of Oscar. Gary accepted Jesus as his Savior at an early age and always seemed to sense the calling of the Lord into ministry. While working at a local radio station in the late 60s and reading a book on Bible prophecy, he sensed the correlation between current events and Scripture and dedicated his life to whatever the Lord had for him.
In pursuing a career in missionary radio, he attended Moody Bible Institute in Chicago in the fall of 1972, the same school Billie Sue Shreve was attending. Billie Sue would eventually become his wife. Gary’s mother Olga suffered a stroke before he left for Moody. His siblings encouraged him to continue on to Moody believing Olga would eventually recover. That recovery did not occur, and, being the youngest unmarried sibling, Gary returned home to care for his mother which turned out to be three and one-half years.
Billie Sue continued on to finish college while Gary remained at home. They dated remotely for three and one-half years and were married June 4, 1976 in the chapel at Circleville Bible College in Circleville, Ohio where Billie Sue had just graduated from. Rev. Ivan Carlson from the Thief River Falls Evangelical Free Church officiated at the wedding. Gary’s sister Helen and his best friend Morrie Stenberg also attended. Gary and Billie Sue had a reception at the church in Thief River Falls later that summer.
Gary went on to finish his college education at Northland Community College in Thief River Falls and Grace College of the Bible in Omaha, Nebraska. He had already completed two years of Electronics at the AVTI in Thief River Falls. His mother Olga became a resident of Oakland Park Nursing home in Thief River Falls where she remained until she passed away in September of 1981. Gary worked for Motorola as a field service technician and then took a job as dispatcher-jailer at the newly constructed Law Enforcement Center in Thief River Falls where he had just completed the installation of all the radio equipment. Reflecting on his pastoral work preparation, Gary stated caring for his mother and being exposed to two years of law enforcement deeply impacted his life and ministry.
While attending Grace, Gary worked full time as chief engineer for KGBI and KROA, the two Grace radio ministries in Omaha and Grand Island, Nebraska. It was during that time Gary developed a method of correcting interference between an antenna and the tower upon which it is mounted and distributing the mechanical load on the tower while allowing the antenna to be rotated around the tower. Through a friend in his Greek class at Grace, Gary was introduced to Wendell Miller, a registered professional mechanical engineer and patent agent in Goshen, Indiana. Gary’s invention resulted in four United States’ Patents with the systems being still manufactured today.
After graduating from Grace 1980, Gary and Billie Sue moved back to Thief River Falls now with two children, Daniel and Andrew. Gary’s mother was 72 years old when Daniel was born and it was important that she could enjoy her only grandchildren as much as she could. Gary took a teaching job in Thief River Falls, continued working in broadcast engineering as a field service engineer, and eventually went full time in manufacturing the antenna positioning system. He and a number of friends and relatives pooled resources, completed the patent process, and went on to form Polar Research, Inc. Initial attempts at marketing failed with the system proving too light for the heavy loads the market demanded. All assets were transferred to TIC General and Carl Anderson, a close personal friend, who went on to upgrade the system significantly. That system is still being manufactured today.
Gary and Billie Sue, now with three children, Daniel, Andrew, and Matthew; moved to Moorhead in the fall of 1984 where Gary took a job teaching electronics at Moorhead Area Vocational-Technical School, a position he held for fourteen years. He also took a part time announcer job at KFNW Radio in Fargo, a position that would turn full time some years later. Billie Sue and Gary, who had always sung together and provided pulpit supply in numerous churches, continued their ministry at Bethel Church in Fargo their new church home. Kristin was born shortly after moving to Moorhead, the first girl in Gary’s family in 56 years. Their earthly family was now complete.
In 1998 Gary responded to a call as pastor at New Hope Evangelical Free Church in Moorhead, Minnesota. His position was to be temporary while they sought a full-time pastor, but it turned out to be five years. Billie Sue and Gary participated in numerous short-term missionary projects around the world, something they were always passionate about. Gary went on to become Director of Engineering for the University of Northwestern in St. Paul where he served while residing in Moorhead until retiring for health reasons in 2016.
Gary is survived by his children Daniel (Alissa) from Woodbury, Minnesota; Andrew (Krystyna) from Thief River Falls, Minnesota; Matthew (Maria) from Minnetonka, Minnesota; and Kristin from Fargo, North Dakota. He is also survived by nine grandchildren: Samuel and Abigail from Woodbury; Gweneth, Logan, Farrah, and Natalie from Thief River Falls; Layla, Penny, and Gloria from Minnetonka. He was preceded in death by his parents Oscar and Olga; his siblings Harry, Orville, and Helen (Adamson); and his wife Billie Sue who passed away December 1, 2018.
At Gary's request, in lieu of gifts or flowers, please consider giving the equivalent amount to: Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, 3755 Mansell Road, Alpharetta, GA 30022 or Bethel Church, 2702 30th Avenue South, Fargo, ND 58103.
Visitation: 5 - 7 pm October 23, 2019, with a Prayer Service held at 7 pm, all at West Funeral Home, West Fargo
Funeral: 10:30 am October 24, 2019 at Bethel Church, Fargo
Burial: Sunset Memorial Gardens, Fargo
West Funeral Home & Life Tribute Center
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Gary Lee Ellingson, please visit our floral store.