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George F. Ellingson, 92, passed away with his family by his side on Sunday, February 25th at the Pondera Medical Center in Conrad.
George was born on August 31, 1925, in Brady, Mt, to Edwin Oliver (2x4) Ellingson and Olga Lee Ellingson. He grew up and attended grade school and high school in Brady. George had three brothers, Vernon, Orvest, and Robert (Rob) and a sister Lucille.
In 1943, two weeks into his senior year of high school, George was drafted into the Army where he proudly served in the European Theater with the 59th Armored Infantry Battalion, C Company, which was part of Patton’s 13th Armored Division during WWII. They were also called the “Black Cats”. He received multiple awards and recognitions for his time spent in the Army. Two of his many awards, which were seldom talked about, were the Sharp Shooter Badge and the Bronze Star. He was on leave in Brady, getting ready to be deployed to the Pacific Theater, when the war ended. Thank God for Harry Truman. George was honorably discharged in April 1946. In later years, they attended the reunions of the 59th Armored Infantry Black Cats.
Following his time in the Army, George worked different jobs. One of which was for the Rural Electrical Association, which brought electricity to the rural areas in North Central Montana. While he was working in Fairfield, he met the love of his life Betty Maphies. He was smitten by her smile and the root beer frosties that she would make for him at the café. On October 29, 1949, they were married and started their 68 years together and were blessed with three children. In 1956, George and Betty purchased Triangle Distributors, which distributed Great Falls Select and Rainier Beer, and later Budweiser to the Golden Triangle. During the next 50 years, George would make his rounds to the local establishments and was known to buy the patrons a round, tell them a joke or story – which usually ended with his uncanny cackle that was known and recognized by all, and most importantly provided thanks to the businesses, employees and patrons that supported him. He was always grateful to employees Big Don, Jerry, Everett, Bubba and LeAnn. While in business, George and Betty enjoyed traveling to the wholesaler conventions all over the US, from which they made memories and lifelong friendships.
One of these lifelong friends invited them to Palm Desert, CA for a visit; they eventually purchased a home and wintered there for 30+ years. George enjoyed playing golf, cribbage, gin rummy, shaking dice, traveling and meeting the boys for “coffee”. He also enjoyed the monthly dinner club parties where he was usually the first to arrive and the last to leave. Summers were spent enjoying the cabin at Whitefish, where he would enjoy time being “Captain George” on the Kayat, having family and friends over to experience one of his favorite places, having a glass of wine or beer on the deck, and watching the sunset.
George was also very active in several community organizations. He served as Conrad City Councilman from May 1967 to January 1982. During this time, they voted to widen 4th Ave, put in sewers and pave the streets on the west side of town. In 1979, as a partner in Executive Helicopter, started the first air ambulance service in North Central Montana. George was also a charter member of the Brady American Legion Post #98, past Post Commander and life member of VFW Post #7655, Loyal Order of the Moose, Conrad Chamber of Commerce, past President of the Pondera Golf Club, charter member of the Conrad Jaycees and was Jaycee Boss of the Year in 1978. A Past President of the Montana Beer and Wine Association and board member of the Rocky Mountain Beer Wholesalers Association. George was very proud and honored to have been a Lions Club member for 58 years.
George is survived by his wife Betty of 68 years, son Bill (SueAnn) of Denver, Patti (Lyle) Orcutt and LeAnn (Bob) Hermance of Conrad. George was very proud of all his family, especially his grandchildren Brittan (Lauren) Ellingson, Jordan (Travis) Taylor of Whitefish, William Ellingson of Chicago, David (Lacey) Orcutt of Conrad, and Jennifer Orcutt (Craig) of Park City, UT. Later the 6 great-grandchildren that referred to him as “Triple G” brought a smile to his face just by being in the room: Jett & Cameron Ellingson, Ashton, London & Maxl George Taylor of Whitefish, ‘His Honor’ Brody Orcutt of Conrad, and several nieces and nephews.
George was preceded in death by his parents, Oliver (2x4) and Olga, his siblings, Vernon, Orvest, Robert and Lucille.
A celebration of George’s life and military service will take place on Saturday, March 24th, 2 PM, at the Pondera Golf Club. In lieu of flowers, memorials are suggested to the Pondera Medical Center Foundation or a charity of donor’s choice.
George enjoyed life to its fullest. He loved being part of a good dice game, having a beer or glass of wine with friends, and telling stories from days gone by. He was one of the best from the Greatest Generation. He showed all of his family how to enjoy every minute of life, how to love and be loved, and make friends and treat them like family. “Cheers to you” dad, grandpa, Triple G and “Here’s to Harry”.