Distinguished Alumnus
Class of 2016

Dr. David J. Ellison
(December 18, 1940 – December 31, 2015)

AHS Class of 1959

Dr. David J. Ellison was a professor and a professional, a man of deep faith, a true Cornhusker, and a family man: a son, husband, father and grandfather. His care, concern and compassion for others governed his life and were exemplified in everything he did and every life he touched.

While Dave garnered much success and respect in his profession, he may be best remembered for his commitment to others. He was deeply involved in Churches of Christ as a member, Bible class teacher, and deacon in charge of finance, outreach and fellowship.

David Jessie Ellison was born December 18, 1940, on a farm southwest of Arcola, IL, the first of four children of Donald B. and Wanetta H. Scotton Ellison. While a student at Arcola High School, Dave participated in football, basketball and track. He was also a member of Lettermen’s Club, Pep Club, Chorus and was a FFA officer. After being on the honor roll the first semester of high school, his focus turned from academics to social activities, and his grades suffered. As high school graduation drew closer, Dave asked his principal for a letter of recommendation for college. The principal recommended that he not attend college. Even though it was not what he wanted to hear, Dave knew that the principal was correct.

Following his 1959 high school graduation, Dave worked in California, at Caterpillar in Joliet, IL, with Combined Insurance Company in central Illinois, and at his father’s service station in Arcola. He met Saundra Nelms of Mattoon, IL, in February, 1961, and the couple married August 27, 1961. In the three-year period following high school, Dave applied for admission to Eastern Illinois University three times and was denied each time. As he was leaving the building after being turned down for the third time, Dr. Jay Knott, director of placement, stopped Dave and asked if there was anything he could do to help him. Dave explained his situation, and was then admitted to EIU on scholastic probation. By second quarter, he had overcome his probationary status. Dave became active in EIU business organizations, was president of the Accounting Club and treasurer of Delta Sigma Pi, an honorary business fraternity. During his junior year, he completed an accounting internship with Price Waterhouse and Company in Chicago and then graduated from EIU in 1966 with a B.S. in Accounting. Following graduation, Dave was employed as an accountant with Murphey, Jenne & Jones CPAs, Mattoon, IL, as his wife Sandi completed her teaching degree at EIU.

A desire to further his education led Dave to the University of Southern Mississippi in 1968 where he received an assistantship and completed his MBA in Accounting in 1969. He next taught accounting at the University of Arkansas from 1969-1972, while also beginning his doctoral studies in accounting. While at Arkansas, he was the president of the Ozark Economic Association.

Dave continued his work as assistant professor of accounting at the University of Nebraska from 1973-1979 and completed his Ph.D. at the University of Arkansas in 1974. While teaching at University of Nebraska Lincoln, Dave co-authored an auditing textbook, "Readings and Cases in Auditing" and the accompanying Solutions Manual for instructors. The textbook was published in six editions and adopted at approximately sixty colleges and universities. As an active supporter of the Big Red at UNL, Dave helped in recruiting and was a loyal fan. In 1979, Dave became associate professor of accounting at Kansas State University, where he taught accounting and graduate courses in auditing.

One final career move in 1981 led Dave to Creighton University in Omaha, NE, where he served as Chair of the Department of Accounting from 1981-1984. While at Creighton University, he served on the Graduate Board and Executive Committee, as well as College of Business Administration Scholarship, Financial Advisory and Dean’s Search Committees. Dave received the 1997 College of Business Administration Excellence in Service Award and was faculty vice-president, Alpha Nu Chapter. He continued to teach at Creighton until his retirement in 2002. During his career, Dave authored accounting, auditing, management, and economic publications and served as a consultant for firms in both industry and public accounting.

Dave served as president of the Nebraska Chapter of Financial Executives Institute, was a long-time member of the Board of Directors, chaired its Academic Relations Committee and served on FEI’s Government Liaison Committee in Washington, D.C. He was president of the Midwest Accounting Society and served as program chair and editor for the 1991 annual meeting. In addition, he served on several American Accounting Association committees. Additional professional memberships included Beta Alpha Psi, Omicron Delta Epsilon, Sigma Iota Epsilon and Beta Gamma Sigma honor societies.

Crediting his wife Sandi, her mother Olive Nelms, his parents, and former professors for their support, Dave established the Donald B. and Wanetta H. Ellison Memorial Scholarship for students in Creighton’s College of Business Administration, with preference given to those from Douglas, Coles, or Moultrie counties in Illinois. Dave’s life was about giving, and he found encouragement from the apostle Paul who wrote in Acts 20:35, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

Dave would most want to be remembered as a family man. Dave and Sandi shared more than fifty-four years together before his death on December 31, 2015. He and Sandi are proud parents of two daughters, Sara and Melissa, and proud grandparents of Hannah and Ellen.

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Last Revision November 11, 2017