Obituary: Mary Ellison served as missionary to Indonesia, founding pastor's wife at Eastside in Marietta


APPLETON, WIS. — Mary Ellison, a missionary to Indonesia for 32 years, “went to bed on Sunday evening, September 24, died during her sleep and woke up in heaven.” That’s the way the news was delivered to The Christian Index by Tim McDaniel, senior adult pastor of Eastside Baptist Church in Marietta.

Mary Melissa Gordon Hollingsworth Ellison was married to Ken Ellison, who was the founding pastor of Eastside Baptist Church in Marietta, Ga. Mary was born on January 2, 1936, to the late William Oscar and Frances (Rowland) Gordon.  She was a graduate of Pompano Beach High School in Florida and held degrees from Carson-Newman University and New Orleans Baptist Seminary.

Mary was united in marriage to Rev. Kenneth Z. Ellison on June 15, 1958, in Deerfield Beach, FL. The Ellisons complemented each other in life and ministry. Mary was a beloved Bible teacher, counselor, and role model for Pastor’s wives.  

In a recent article in The Christian Index Ken Ellison explained, “Mary and I were missions volunteers before we met.” Their years of service in a country characterized by heat, monsoons, mosquitos, snakes, tsunamis, socialism, government restrictions, the challenge of learning a new language and numerous other hardships, were demanding, but the Ellison’s kept their eyes on Jesus and served Him with selflessness and sacrifice.

After many years on the mission field the Ellisons returned to Marietta and became stalwart supporters of the church they had planted more than 60 years earlier.

Current Eastside Pastor John Hull stated, “Those of us who have succeeded the Ellisons have reaped the harvest of what they have done. They have set the tone for more than 60 years of ministry in this city.

“The beauty of what Ken and Mary Ellison have done here has produced spiritual children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.”

Lloyd Blackwell, longtime member of Eastside Baptist Church who joined the Ellisons on mission trips to Indonesia commented, “Mary was one of the finest examples of Christianity I have ever personally known. I was blessed to serve together in a support effort with Mary and Ken in their dedicated missionary lives for many years.

“I even visited them in Indonesia on the mission field. I can attest with first-hand knowledge of their consistent 100 percent dedication to serve our Lord with their best efforts in all those years. Mary was always a sparkplug to ignite/encourage our best efforts for our Lord.

“She has gone home for a deserved rest and reward, but she certainly will be missed by all of us who received so much positive godly encouragement. She earned our Christian love and respect and is certainly worthy of emulation.”

Ruth Griffin, a fellow missionary with the Ellisons in Indonesia, declared, “Mary was a vibrant Christian. She was like a dear sister to me on the mission field. We served along with Mary and Ken on two cities in Java. Mary was a faithful friend to me through thick and thin. She was so thoughtful and hospitable. We will miss her terribly.”

Two months ago the Ellisons moved to Wisconsin so they could be near their daughter, Melissa, and her family

Mary is survived by her husband, Rev. Kenneth Z. Ellison; Edward Brent Ellison of Philadelphia and Melissa Suzanne (Paul) Elllison-Franzmeier of New London; four grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.  

Mary was preceded in death by her parents; two brothers and two sisters.

Private graveside prayers will be offered by Rev. Paul Franzmeier.  A Celebration of Life will be held later in Marietta-Atlanta, Georgia.