Jean Laverne Dillingham Ellis went to heaven on June 13, 2017 at the age of 96 years, 10 months and seven days. Family and friends will gather on Aug. 19 at 3 p.m. at the Minburn Methodist Church for a celebration and memorial of Jean’s life followed by a meal. When her husband Leo died, Jean set up a memorial fund to help future pastors with their schooling. Two people from the Minburn Methodist Church have received education funding from this memorial. The family wishes to continue this funding in Jean’s memory. If you wish to contribute, memorial money can be sent to Jackie Landon, 21058 Minburn Road, Minburn, Iowa 50167.
Jean was the last child born to Nathaniel Blizzard Dillingham and Lola Etta Paist on Aug. 6, 1920 in Perry, Iowa. She grew up there, attending school through the middle of her senior year. She met her husband, Leo B. Ellis, of Minburn while roller skating in Perry. They married on Feb. 23, 1937 at the church parsonage in Minburn, Iowa. She finished her high school education in Minburn.
Surviving are three daughters: Jacquetta “Jackie” Landon (Charles) of Minburn, Iowa, Joyce Meyer of Grinnell, Iowa, and Janice Ott (Eldon) of Marshalltown, Iowa, six grandchildren, 14 great grandchildren, three step-great-grandchildren and two step-great-great-grandchildren. During their first 20 years in farming, Leo and Jean hosted foreign exchange students from Taiwan to live with them for six months and learn the art of raising chickens. Later, one exchange student, Jerry Lai, and family returned to live with Jean and Leo, while their children continued their education at Central Dallas Community School.
Jean was preceded in death by her husband, Leo B. Ellis, her parents, her siblings, one son-in-law, Duane Meyer, and Jerry Lai.
While her three children were in elementary school, Jean attended American Institute of Business, studying secretary administration. She was employed for 20 years by Jester and Sons (now Jester Insurance) in Des Moines, Iowa as an insurance underwriter. She retired from working at the age of 50 and became a farm partner with Leo. She remained owner of the family farm and managed it with her son-in-law, Charles Landon, until her death.
Her winter months were spent in Texas at Pharr South Community in Pharr, Texas. She spent 32 winters there before returning to Iowa. The last five years of her life she lived in Clive, Iowa at Woodlands Creek Retirement Community.
She traveled extensively to 37 other countries through Friendship Force International and served as chapter president in Texas. In return, she hosted many people from other countries in her homes in Minburn, Iowa and Pharr, Texas. She also traveled the United States helping others during disasters. The Children’s Disaster Relief, in conjunction with the Red Cross, sent her to communities recovering from tornados, floods, hurricanes, and the terrorist attack in New York. Other volunteer work included the Children’s Haven Orphanage in Mexico, Grandparent program in the Pharr Elementary School System in Texas. She was also a member of the United Methodist Women, Woman’s Federation Club, and Eastern Stars.
Jean loved DOGS, her grandchildren, great grandchildren, great, great grandchildren, square dancing, camping, traveling, shopping sales, cooking, canning, and doing anything outdoors. She mowed her own lawn on her small tractor lawn mower until she was 92 years old. You could always count on her help at church, in the community women’s group, and other organizations.
The family will always remember “Christmas in July” when each year she would host a fun party. She would spend all year buying many presents for everyone. She will be missed and always loved!!!!