May 1981- June 2014
William Cody Ellingson, 33, passed away on Wednesday, June 4, 2014 at his home in Skagway, AK surrounded by the love of his family and friends.
A celebration of his life will be held on Saturday, July 19 at 4 p.m. at Riverside Park Amphitheater in Yankton, SD. A reception with food and drinks will follow at the park.
Cody was born on May 9, 1981 in Yankton, SD to William “Duke” and Peggy Jo (Peterson) Ellingson. He was the second of three children. Cody attended Lincoln Elementary and Yankton Middle School graduating from Yankton Senior High School in 2000. He attended North Dakota State University from 2000-2002 planning to be an engineer but soon realized that engineering was not the lifestyle for him. In 2002, Cody transferred to the University of Hawaii at Manoa and graduated with honors in December 2004 with a B.S. in travel industry management.
Cody’s love of travel and adventure led him to see the world on his own terms. He spent his summers working and living in Alaska including Skagway, Fairbanks and Seward. After graduating from college, Cody continued spending summers in Alaska with the exception of one summer in Brigantine, NJ. He traveled throughout Mexico, Central and South America for a few winters.
Cody spent a winter skiing and rock climbing in Utah, one skiing in Colorado, and one as a white-water rafting guide in New Zealand. Cody’s winters were never spent in the same place because as he once wrote, “Once you are comfortable, it is time to move on.” In 2009, Cody purchased Frontier Excursions and Adventures in Skagway with his business partners and dear friends, Cris Siegel and Katie Leonetti. Cody lived his dream of becoming his own boss and was proud to say the only suit he ever wore was a swimsuit.
Cody loved sports. Growing up, he was involved in taekwondo, soccer, baseball, football, wrestling, golf, and basketball. The two sports he loved and continued to play throughout his life were golf and basketball. He also enjoyed hiking, surfing, skiing, rock climbing, white-water rafting, and an occasional leg-stomping, arm-waving, spin on the dance floor. Cody loved to watch the Minnesota Vikings, Minnesota Twins, NBA and NCAA basketball, and golf. He could tell you statistics of all the games, teams and their players. Cody definitely knew his numbers – he could tell you his passport, checking account, and credit card numbers and could recite phone numbers from anywhere, whether it be a childhood friend’s old landline in Yankton or a restaurant in Skagway.
Three natural events occurred within eight hours of Cody’s passing, sending a message that Cody was on his way to heaven. A thunder and lightning storm filled the skies at White Pass, a very rare event in that part of the world. Cody always loved a good thunderstorm! In the middle of the night, a 5.7 earthquake shook the ground causing many folks to rise from their beds. The Skagway newspaper noted that “some people felt the rocking (of the quake) at a bar immediately following a toast to a good friend. The toast that had Skagwegians wondering if there was some sort of cosmic connection to the quake was for Cody Ellingson, a 33-year-old beloved man of Skagway and South Dakota, who had been fighting cancer and passed away just after midnight.” Later that day, a perfect sun dog appeared in the sky that resembled an eye. The sun dog’s appearance is very meaningful because Cody was able to donate his corneas to two people.
Cody will be remembered by many people for his generous and adventurous spirit, his enormous love of life, his goofiness, his contagious smile and his kind brown eyes. He truly lived each day to its fullest, taking one day at a time, and buying one-way tickets for all of his travels because “you never know where life may take you.” Cody touched the lives of everyone he met as evidenced by the smiles he left on their faces.
One friend wrote, “Cody has taught me, in so many indirect ways, some of life’s deepest and most meaningful lessons. I love deeper, think longer, challenge the status quo, and strive to grow as an individual because of him.”
Thankful for having shared his life are his parents Peg and Duke Ellingson; sisters Lindsey (Bill) Doctorman and Jaimie (Lars) Lawson, Skagway; nephews Malcolm and Kurt Lawson, Skagway; partner, Tiffany Reynolds, Skagway; grandparents June and Vern “Oine” Ellingson, Yankton; aunts and uncles Sue (Ed) Buda, Bob (Deb) Ellingson, and Pam (Matt) Lofton; cousins Gordon “Tad” Larsen, Dan Larsen, Amanda (Buda) Feyen and Jessica (Ellingson) Oztas and his Ohana (part of Hawaiian culture meaning “extended family”).
Cody was preceded in death by his grandparents, Gilbert L. and Doris M. (Pipe) Peterson and his uncle Ross T. Peterson.
The family is experiencing the love and friendship of Cody’s many friends as they receive cards, e-mails, and phone calls from near and far. Cody always wanted all of his friends to meet one another, and his dream will come true on July 19.
In honor of Cody’s life, may we all try to be more generous with our smiles and make someone’s day better by showing kindness and understanding whenever possible. May we perpetuate his adventurous spirit by doing those things and going to those places on our list of things to do “someday”, sooner rather than later.
Cody was able to meet a thymic carcinoma specialist, Dr. Patrick Loehrer, a week before his passing. He was impressed by Dr. Loehrer’s dedication and knowledge. Cody was a charitable person and would be proud to have memorials directed to the research being conducted on thymic carcinoma. Checks should be made payable to the IU Foundation/ William P. Loehrer Family Fund. The memo line of the check should say, “In memory of Cody Ellingson.” Gifts should be mailed to IU Foundation –School of Medicine, PO Box 7072, Indianapolis, IN 46207-7072.
– Submitted by the family