Donald Richard Ellison
1942 - 2021
{ "" }
Share Donald's life story with friends and family
Send an Email
Or Copy this URL to Share

November 19, 1942 - April 16, 2021

On Friday, April 16, 2021, Donald Richard Ellison, loving husband and devoted father passed away at the age of 78.

Don was born November 19, 1942 in Taft, CA to Burton Rolland Ellison and Eileen Beatrice Ellison, nee Sims. He spent his youth in Bakersfield, California and graduated from Bakersfield High School and went on to Bakersfield Community College in 1961. He participated in many sports and excelled in track and field events. Growing up in Kern County influenced his decision to become a petroleum engineer. He received his engineering degree from the Missouri School of Mines and he was an accomplished petroleum reservoir engineer for over 55 years. In 1965 he married Bonnie Bigsby and raised two sons, Sims Edgar and Kyle Richard in San Antonio, Texas. In 1998 he re-married to Susan Lo. Susan and Don resided in Houston and their alternate residence in Galveston for the next 23 years.

In 1989, Don was one of the first Americans to establish a successful business venture in Russia during the collapse of the Soviet Union. He was instrumental in developing technology to capture escaping gas vapors that were being flared into the atmosphere. His technology, or variants from it, is still in use today throughout the world helping to create cleaner and more efficient energy sources. His pioneering efforts opened the doors for private partnerships with the Communist Russian Government.

In 1995, after the devastating loss of his son Sims, he founded the SIMS Foundation in Austin, Texas. The SIMS Foundation continues to provide lifesaving mental health and substance use recovery services to local Austin musicians, music professionals, and their families.

Don's compassion for his fellow man and generosity touched too many lives to recall in this limited space. His many friends and colleagues each had a special place in his heart. Don brought joy, adventure, mentorship, experience, and some occasional adventure and mischief to each of his relationships.

Don and Susan were never too far from their beloved dogs. Don had a great love of all animals, but had a special, almost empathic relationship with his 4-legged companions. He would sit with them for hours watching all the birds, squirrels, and other animals that visited him each day in his backyard.

Over his life he enjoyed many sports, especially handball, running, fishing, and biking. He could talk for hours about his exploits with his fraternity brothers, fishing on his Boston Whaler, volunteering as a firefighter, starting out as a roughneck in the oil fields, traveling in his RV, and traveling all over the world from one special project to the next. Don's amazing intellect and free spirit allowed him to see things differently and come up with unusual solutions to complicated problems. He sincerely lived his life to the fullest and made a lasting impact in his corners of the world.

Don is survived by his beloved wife Susan, his talented son Kyle, former wife Bonnie, nephews and nieces: Burton, Donald, Jeanine, Dana, as well as many other extended family and friends. He is preceded in death by his son Sims Edgar Ellison and his parents.

No formal services will be conducted per Don's wishes. He hopes everyone will celebrate his life in their own way, continue to live every day as an adventure, and do their part to bring joy into the world. If you are so moved, please consider a donation to the SIMS Foundation or other charitable organization that helps to make your world a better place.

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in Bakersfield Californian on May 2, 2021.
No memorial events are currently scheduled. To offer your sympathy during this difficult time, you can now have memorial trees planted in a National Forest in memory of your loved one.
Memories & Condolences
Guest Book sponsored by Forest Park Westheimer Funeral Home
Not sure what to say?
1 entry
May 3, 2021
Don was a friend of mine in HS days. We would go to his house and play poker a lot. He was always up beat about everything and smarter that all of us.
just a good guy from Bakersfield.

stephen wm. kling
Invite others to add memories
Share to let others add their own memories and condolences