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Rodney Ellis Alumni Assoc. President

Profile Updated: November 5, 2018
Rodney Ellis
Rodney Ellis

Early Days

Rodney Ellis


Rodney Ellis


Yes! Attending Reunion
Class Year
Residing In
East Lansing, MI USA
Occupation during your working years
CEO, Lucasse,Ellis, Inc., financial planning and consulting
Any Children or grand children?
Jim (Kennedy and Madison, grandaughters), Maggie (Olivia and Addie, grandaughters)
Did you serve in the Military
Army ROTC  
Attending University Club/Celebration Gathering (10/09/15)


Attending River Boat Excursion/Dinner Dance (10/10/15)


Attending Brody International Cafe' for Brunch (10/11/15)


Attending The Big Chill (10/11/15)


Any Relatives went to Okemos? Brothers, Sisters, Children, Parents, Cousins, etc.

Melody, Sister, 1963
Mary, Sister, 1968
Claudia Coohon, Cousin, 1965
Katie Coohon, Cousin, 1973
Olivia Terry, Grandaughter, 2021
Adeline Terry, Grandaughter, 2024
Margaret Terry, Daughter, Kinawa 5-6 Teacher

Comments about life and living

Hi Classmates,

I’m still here, although you may wonder who is that old guy in the pictures. If you remember me at all, you probable remember skinny kid, average grades, never serious. I haven’t changed or as my wife will tell you, "he won't change, damn it!" In spite of myself, I did find the secret to success right there at Okemos High School...hang out with smart & successful people and others will assume you are one of them! At lunch hour, I sat with Prof. Carolyn Fishel and (Dr.) Irene Townsend and then married their college roommate, Catherine (Cassie) Barnes, (MA, JD). Dr. Roberta White (Bobbie Firnhaber), (Rev.) Arlo Peterson, Cindy Johnson, Dave Brower, Donna Stiffler, Larry Avery and Dave Winters. My formula worked and now Cassie and I summer on Lake Michigan and winter on a Caribbean island…people may think I'm some kind of genius...hah, I barely pulled minimum grades to get through Michigan State in General Business!

My much better half (actually 3/4) and I have had a highlighted life of fun and excitement, mostly because she planned all the trips. Cassie and I got married in 1968, so she knows as many of you as I do. David Winters and Larry Avery went to a party at her folks home before I had my first date with her...which was a band and orchestra concert at OHS, we ran into Jeff (Lefty) Smith who gave me the OK after "checking her out".

Do you remember 1963 that our family had a German exchange student and a real track star ringer, Hans Wiegand? Well, someone in our family has seen someone in his family every year since 1966 when my sister Melody, Bruce Gardner, Hans (all class of ’63) and I toured Europe in his VW Beetle. We’ve been to all their kids weddings, bicycled the Danuabe River with them and Hans and Madalena, their son Niklas, wife and grandchildren were at our cottage this last August. During that 1966 trip I left Hans for a couple of weeks and met up with Cassie and Carolyn (who were in summer school in Switzerland - again, real smart!) and traveled to Paris, Florence and Rome. Cassie and I kept up the traveling since then with many trips to Europe, St. Petersburg, Istanbul, Greece, Turkey...stood on the ruins of Troy (do you remember reading that god awful Iliad in Freshman English!)...New Zealand, South Africa and lots of time in the Caribbean where we bought a villa. Oh yes, and Mexico, where my one year in Mrs. Mosher's class went over real well with waiters and shopkeepers, leaving them (or was it my wife?) in tears as the Espanol rolled off my finely-educated tongue...actually, it was Bobbie Firnhaber that had whispered all the answers to me in class! Bobbie got me through, but Senora Mosher made me an offer I couldn't refuse. She offered me a "C" if I promised not to go on to Spanish II…I accepted her offer.

Looking back, I thought I would conclude that our greatest joy would be having kids, and Jim and Maggie are wonderful. But, off the scale joy is having grand kids! Jim (divorced and remarried) have two girls, Kennedy Ann and Madison Clare. Maggie and Luke have Olivia and Addie. Our daughter lives in Okemos, son, Sarnia, Ont.

After thirty-three years in the insurance and investment business in Grand Rapids, I called it quits and sold my business in 2004. We moved to East Lansing in 2004 when son-in-law Luke, wanted to be in financial services! So, I went back at it again and we rebuilt our firm. This January I really retired.

Back to the OHS lunch table was Donna Stiffler, our dear friend. Cassie worked with Donna at the State History Division and unbelievably, Donna has outlived two of the most wonderful and interesting husbands I have ever met. She won't make it to the reunion from Magnolia Springs, Alabama (home of Fanny Flagg,"Fried Green Tomatoes" and Winston Groom, the author of "Forrest Gump"). She teaches, lectures and sells rare books via Internet. Dave Brower, who ran MSU (anyone called Chief Financial Officer, runs the show). Dave Winters (a U of M lawyer) directed the state Employees Association for years, advisor to the governor and governmental appointments (also raised a kid that canned a three pointer at the buzzer and sent Okemos to the playoffs and daughter Mary tore up the course for the Chieftains golf). Dave married above himself also with bright and delightful, Jan who runs the Michigan government. Larry Avery, the smartest of them all, taught Dave Winters and I all we ever needed to know about life and sex. His philosophy was up there with Hugh Heffner and Dave and I listened with our tongue hanging out! Always the teacher and leader, he was right there with me at the alter giving me instruction to say “I do” to Cassie and advising on wedding night protocol. Larry, like Dave and I, married above himself. Linda is a wonderful and practical Williamston girl who can sew a designer purse and make dinner for 300 people and most importantly knows how to cool his jets and live a measured pace.

Like many of you, my parents are gone. Mom in '96 and dad in '97. Great memories of parties at the Ellis', with mom playing piano and dad directing the sing along. They had moved to Florida around 1990 and partied on to the day they died. They did live to see their grandsons (our Jim and Melody's Jacob and Nathan) march in the MSU Marching Band. Yes, its true that every relative from my parents down, went to MSU (actually includes my grandfather who was stationed at MAC in WWI).

Speaking of relatives, my cousin Claudia Coohon, who joined our class as a junior is married, two girls, retired in Lowell, Michigan, was an administrator at a private girls' school. She will be at the reunion looking as great as ever.

After all these years, I have found the answer to the question...in Grinnell's Senior English, the smartest person in our class, Margaret (Margot) Haynes, asked, "Rod, aren't you ever serious?" To which I can answer with great confidence and vast experience - NO!

School Stories

Our family moved to Okemos from Grand Rapids in 1960, 8th grade..I was short (for a boy). Mrs. Coleman was 1st hour, so naturally, attendance was a big deal. I remember her with glasses, not too tall and elderly. Also, quick to crack us to attention. Each name was called off in alpha order as she starred at the responder. We had assigned seats, you'd think alpha order would be practical - no - in order by height! The back two rows were all boys..Dave Premoe, Wally Reese and towering above all, Bill Breckenfeld. Third row from the back was mixed and included Larry Avery, forth row all girls and the front row also all girls...except for me in the middle of the front row. I wanted to sit in the back where all the wise cracks came from. The up side of the story was that I got to sit next to Bobbie Firnhaber and Carolyn Fishel. I eventually got to date Bobbie and years later, Carolyn introduced me to her college roommate Cassie, my wife of 50 years. Also, check out the yearbook, Rod, Bobbie and Carolyn were always together in alphabetical order, not by height!

Rodney's Latest Interactions

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Jan 04, 2020 at 10:22 PM
Dec 18, 2019 at 1:35 PM

Hi Jon, happy birthday! I sure would like some car pic's.

Dec 09, 2019 at 4:16 PM

Posted on: Dec 06, 2019 at 4:35 AM

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Apr 08, 2019 at 10:26 AM

Happy Birthday, Bob! I'm reminding you that you promised "will update later" with comments about life and living...we're still waiting. Tough loss for MSU in the Final Four, but a great Basketball season.

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Posted: Sep 30, 2015 at 11:02 PM
1952 First day of school, Hesperia, Michigan. My dad was the band director, taught shop and asst. principal. And Melody.
Posted: Sep 30, 2015 at 11:08 PM
1963 I lived (and dated!) in this 1960 Beatle for years. Ron Davis lived 2 houses down and Bev Smith next door.
Posted: Nov 11, 2015 at 5:24 PM
Posted: Apr 10, 2015 at 1:51 PM
1965 Senior Picture
Posted: Nov 11, 2015 at 5:02 PM
This is the house we lived in from 1960 to graduation. Forest Hills Subdivision on Marlborough Dr. In the background is Bev Smith's house. Accross the street was Kathy Plato and north was Chuck Pryor (who moved to California in 1962). Directly behind Bev Smith was Dave Morse and Bonnie Lantz on Forest Hills Dr.
Posted: Nov 11, 2015 at 3:11 PM
The house is still there at 4506 Marlborough Rd, Forest Hills Subdivision.
Posted: Mar 22, 2017 at 9:21 PM
1960 Soap Box Derby My cousin Bill Coohon (his sister Claudia graduated with us), my grandfather Leo, me. The next year I won!

We are at my grandparents cottage in southern Michigan (Nottawa). I litterally grew up there near to the school where my father started teaching in 1948.

Pals, Dave Winters, Larry Avery and I spent some great times there. Senior year near graduation 1965, I took Bev Smith there with Christin Powell, Bill Breckenfeld and others I can't remember, to our cottage on Sand Lake for water skiing and cook out.
Posted: Nov 11, 2015 at 5:14 PM
1968 Cassie and Rod wedding. We were introduced 3 years earlier by Carolyn Fishel. Carllyn, Irene Townsen and Cassie were college roomates.
Posted: Oct 01, 2015 at 12:45 AM
1968 The wedding party. 2nd from left: Carolyn Fishel 2nd from right: Larry Avery Not pictured: Dave Winters, active duty Air Force
Posted: Nov 11, 2015 at 4:27 PM
1975 Rod and Jimmy washing the 1970 MGB. Yes, I wish I still had it (it rusted out by 1976). We built our first house in 1973, off Meridian Rd in Pebblebrook Subdivision. The address was Williamston but Okemos School District.