John Oscar Ellefson

May 15, 2019

John Oscar Ellefson

January 27, 1936 -- May 12, 2019

John Oscar Ellefson, 83, passed away Sunday, May 12, 2019.

A memorial service will be held in Albuquerque, New Mexico in June, followed by a memorial in Columbus at a later date. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Nebraskans for Peace, or the Amyloidosis Center at BMC, Boston University.

John was born in Aberdeen, Washington, on January 27, 1936, to Raymond Carl Ellefson and Gretchen Hodges Ellefson. The family moved to Columbus in 1942.

After serving in the Marine Corps, John graduated with honors from Harvard University with a BA in Anthropology. He went on to earn a Ph.D. in Physical Anthropology from UC Berkeley. There, he met Judith Shirek. They married in 1965 in Singapore, where they were both doing post-doctoral studies on gibbons for Stanford University.

John and Judy settled in northern New Mexico, where their daughter Caitlin was born. Following Judy’s death, John and Caitlin moved to Columbus, where John met and married Elaine Morgan. The couple lived outside of Columbus until they moved to Albuquerque in 2014.

John was admired for his many accomplishments, including designing and building environmentally sustainable homes and rowing on the 1959 undefeated, World-Cup winning Harvard crew. John’s favorite things to do were gardening and carpentry. He also advocated tirelessly for social justice.

John is survived by his wife, Elaine Morgan; daughter, Caitlin (Christopher) Spohrer; Elaine’s sons, Jeff (Sue) Boyle and Todd (Nancy) Boyle; six grandchildren; sisters, Adrianne Rogers and Jane Ellefson; sister-in-law, Julia Shirek Smith; and numerous nieces and nephews.