Ellis Earl Odermann was born to Clarence and Gladys Odermann on June 25, 1938 in a farm house where his father was born in Valley City, North Dakota. Ellis’ father was a pastor in the Free Methodist Church which meant his family moved frequently. Ellis had an older brother, Verne, and a younger sister, Lois, and eventually a cousin, Amy, came to be a part of the family.
The family ministered in Sioux City, Iowa until 1942. During that time, Ellis had fallen out of the backseat of a moving car, suffered a skull fracture, and was hospitalized for 10 days.
From 1942 to 1945, the family resided in Wessington Springs, South Dakota where Ellis attended kindergarten and 1st grade. They moved to Rapid City, South Dakota in 1945 and remained there for 5 years. Wessington Springs became home again in 1950 when Clarence became superintendent for the Dakota Conference of the Free Methodist Church. Ellis went to public school for two years and then attended high school (Class of ’56) and 2 years of college at Wessington Springs College (WSC) (Class of ’58) He spent his summers working on farms, and he enjoyed hunting, fishing, and sports especially basketball.
Ellis started dating Marilyn Gillette when he was a junior and she was a freshman in high school. Their families were good friends, and they had known each other much of their lives. They were even a junior bride and groom in a wedding together when Ellis was 5 years old and Marilyn was 3 years old.
Ellis continued his education at Greenville College (Class of ’60) studying business and accounting. WSC asked Ellis to join their staff as business manager shortly after.
Ellis and Marilyn were married September 9, 1961 in the Chapel at WSC. They both worked for WSC and Wessington Springs Academy (WSA) where the years were lean, but happy. Ellis was also a member of the National Guard from 1963 to 1969.
Their son, Jeff, was born October 9, 1965. As WSA was closing, Ellis was invited to Central College in McPherson, Kansas to become the business manager in 1968. One year later, their daughter Rochelle was born on July 23, 1969. They lived above the Winslows in the old Elms House, where the McPherson Free Methodist Church currently sits. In 1970, Ellis built his family a home on Central Avenue where they lived until 1978 when he built their current house on Pine Court.
Ellis and Marilyn were married 53 years, and their immediate family includes Jeff and Sue Odermann, Brittany, Jillette, and Katie, and Kevin and Rochelle Traub, Espen, Sierra, and Gracyn.
Ellis served 39 years in Christian education retiring in 2000 from Central Christian College of Kansas as Vice President of Finance. He and Marilyn were inducted into the Academy of Achievers in 2000, and he was honored to have the Ellis Odermann basketball court dedicated in 2013. More importantly, Ellis simply loved being on campus interacting with faculty, staff, and students at games, coffee break, in his office, or getting his hands dirty in many work projects. He was a longstanding member of the McPherson Free Methodist Church serving faithfully in many roles. Ellis also served the McPherson community in many ways, most notably in Kiwanis, and in other locations through Craftsman for Christ. He and Henry Cooney moonlighted as drywallers for many years, something he enjoyed until he was physically unable to do it.
Ellis, affectionately known as Oats, loved his family, his friends, and any activity that brought them together. He enjoyed hunting, fishing, snow skiing, playing games, travelling, and any sport with a ball. His easy going nature, generous spirit, and embracing personality endeared him to many. He was a man of few words, but his servant heart spoke volumes.
Ellis was welcomed home to heaven October 26, 2014.
Survivors include: his wife, Marilyn of the home; a son, Jeff Odermann (Sue) of McPherson; a daughter, Rochelle Traub (Kevin) of Middleville, MI; a brother, Verne Odermann (Vicki) of Tulsa, OK; a sister, Lois Huff (Tim) of Murphy, NC, a cousin, Amy Little of LaVergne, TN; brother-in-law, Gaylord Gillette (Vicki) of McPherson, KS; sisters-in-law, Rose Jeffery (Dave) of McPherson, KS and Eloise Gillette of Salina, KS; and six grandchildren, Brittany, Jillette, and Katie Odermann and Espen, Sierra, and Gracyn Traub.
The funeral service will be at 10:00 AM, Friday, October 31 at McPherson Free Methodist Church. Burial will be in McPherson Cemetery. Visitation will be from 4:00 to 8:00 PM Thursday at the church, with family receiving friends from 6:00 to 8:00 PM.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be given to McPherson Free Methodist Church or Central Christian College of Kansas in care of Stockham Family Funeral Home, 205 N. Chestnut, McPherson, KS 67460. To send flowers or a memorial gift to the family of Ellis E. Odermann please visit our Sympathy Store.