Richard Ellison’s life was so dramatically changed by his time at East Texas State Teachers College that he felt compelled to pass on the gift of education to others.
[pullquote author=”Richard Ellison”]“One day I was sitting around, talking with my family, and I posed the question, ‘what if all of the kids in our family went to college?’” Ellison said. “So I set out to make it happen.”[/pullquote]
More than $1 million later, Ellison has paved the way for 21 of his grandnieces and nephews, and kids he’s “adopted” into the Ellison family to attend and graduate from A&M-Commerce. For Ellison, it’s more than making sure his Lion legacy continues. It’s about extending the power of education through the next generation of leaders and the lives they touch.
[narrowcolumn foo=”bar”]Each recipient of Ellison’s generosity, however, embarks on their collegiate journey with the responsibility of paying for 20 percent of their education at A&M-Commerce, an expectation that Ellison feels will instill each student with a sense of ownership of their future.
“I want each young person to know that I support them, but it’s important that they work to pay a portion of their schooling, whether it’s through scholarships, grants, a part-time job or other financial aid. It teaches them the value of working toward a goal, and prevents them from feeling entitled to whatever the future holds.”
Ellison’s love for this university was fostered by his father who attended East Texas Normal College.[/narrowcolumn]
“He went to A&M-Commerce in ’06 and ’07…that’s 1906 and 1907. He attended school here when Professor Mayo still taught classes,” Ellison said. “Now, with their college assured at A&M-Commerce, I have the further privilege of carrying on my father’s legacy by inspiring the next generation of Ellisons to concentrate on getting a quality education from grade school through college.”
Ellison hopes that each student he helps will use their education to realize their potential to succeed in the business world after graduation as he did. A former Captain in the U.S. Air Force, Ellison used his education to transition into a 25-year career in purchasing management with Avon in New York City, as well as a second 25-year career as the newly retired owner of Ellison Financial Services in Dallas.
“After graduating from ET and serving in the Air Force during the Korean War, I went to work for Shell Oil Company in Houston,” he said. “After a few years, however, I felt ready for a new challenge. A good friend suggested we go to New York City for a career change, so 30 days later we packed our bags, paid off our bills and headed to the The Big Apple in search of bigger opportunities and greater adventures.”
According to Ellison, education is the key to everything in life, an invaluable gift no one can take away.
“Providing a young person with an education is one of the most worthwhile investments I could make, and A&M-Commerce provides one of the best,” Ellison said. “With each student I help, I’m adding to our family’s little pride of Lions. I can’t possibly stop now.”