I was born in Jamestown, NY on June 16, 1921 to Fred & Bessie Elleman.
I was one of nine kids, five boys & four girls. My family was tenant farmers and we moved moved a lot but lived mostly in OH. I had a great childhood growing up with so many and getting into as much trouble as possible. I loved school, I loved to read and learn new thingd. Due to little work, my brother Jack and I joined the army in June 1940 when I turned 19. By the time the war broke out I was a Staff Sergeant with my own motor pool. I spent about a year in England & Ireland. As a farm boy from rural Ohio, I was thrilled to travel the world. We received orders to go to North Africa in January of 1943 and on February 14, 1943 my division was captured by a German division headed by General Rommel along with about 2000 other servicemen. I spent 27 months as a prisoner of war where I met men from all walks of life and we formed a bond that would last a lifetime. I escaped from the camps on 3 separate occasions only to be recaptured. The last time we escaped a young farm girl named Marianna & her family hid us from both the Germans & Russians. She gave me a map to help us find the American lines. When the Berlin wall came down, my son took me back to Germany to see if there were still camps standing & with a lot of searching & luck, we found Marianna. It was a touching reunion and I tried to return the map but she asked me to keep it.
After the war, I found that one of my friends sister had grown up. I married my little wife, Betty Jo Wood in 1946 and we had a crazy ride for over 61 years until her passing in 2007. We raised two great kids – our son Fred "Fritz" was born in 1946, our little girl Bunny was born in 1949. The two of them blessed us with six fantastic grandchildren – only one boy!! They were good children and grandchildren and even though we had our rough times like all families, we always made the most out of what life handed us. I was lucky enough to see all ten of my great grandchildren born & hold each one in my arms. There is no greater joy than to watch your little ones run through the house chasing each other and then one will stop by your chair, touch your hand, smile & say hi grandpa. I was blessed to have spent so much time with my family.
Jo & I lived together for 61 years. We moved from Ohio to Delaware where we became the owners of our own hardware store. We worked side by side every day of the year for over 22 years. We bought a place in Brownsville, Texas where we spent every winter playing golf and having grand adventures with the many friends we made there. We retired back to OH in 1995 where we enjoyed our old friends and family. We spent many days golfing, joining family for weekly lunches and just enjoying life. We travelled as much as possible over the years and visited almost every state in the country. We had a wonderful, full life with a beautiful family.
I tried to instill in my kids that education was the most important thing in your life. I was fortunate that NCR allowed me to take educational classes. I read the Webster's Dictionary cover to cover, which drove my daughter crazy. I also had the opportunity to read the entire Encyclopedia Britannica. It was quite an adventure. Reading was a big part of my life until the end. I loved to play golf although, I was never as good as Jo. During my life I served as Mayor of our little town of Laura, Ohio, was a member of the West Milton Masons, the Millsboro, DE Chamber of Commerce and Lions Club, where I held various offices. I tried to be a good member of my community wherever I lived and give back for what I had received.
After my wife passed away, my kids moved me to Delaware so I would be close to them. I truly hated leaving Ohio and my friends and family – but it was a good move. My family took very good care of me and I lived in a nice place where I received the best of care. I enjoyed watching sports and discussing games with my kids. I went from an avid Reds fan to adopting my son-in-laws Orioles since we didn't get many Reds games in DE. But it will always be the Reds, Buckeyes and Bengals in my heart. My family made me a part of their day to day lives and I can honestly say I am one lucky man. I have lived a very full, meaningful life – I tried to never do harm to another – I always told my kids to never judge a man until they have walked a mile in his shoes and that is how I tried to live.
When I hit 90, I told my kids I was shooting for a 100. No Elleman that I know has ever made it to 90 – so I wanted to go one further. But like all good things, the end must come – so I slipped quietly out of this life at 4:40 p.m. on March 1, 2014. I was surrounded by those I love and cherish and hope they know how much they mean to me. I hope the memories we made will last them forever.
They told me there will be a service held March 8, 2014 at Hale-Sarver Funeral Home in West Milton, OH. There will be a time for friends and family to call and visit from 10:00 am till noon followed by a service and my burial next to my partner in crime for 61 years – Jo. Following the burial my family would like all of you to join them at Marion's Pizza in Troy to celebrate the wonderful life I led. I hope you join them and have a cold one for me.
Please do not send flowers – I would much prefer that you send a donation in my name to Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, Inc., 3033 Wilson Blvd. Suite 630, Arlington, VA 22201 to help care for the families of our fallen veterans.