Edner J. Ellifson
May 24, 1922 Ė Oct. 25, 2013
Edner J. Ellifson, 91, of Waukesha passed away Friday, Oct. 25, 2013, with his loving wife by his side. He was born to the late Edwin and Annette (Strand) Ellifson on May 24, 1922, in Blair. He was united in marriage at West Beef River Lutheran Church in Strum to Eva L. Johnson on Oct. 24, 1942. They lived together in Strum for many years before relocating to Dousman in 1960. They retired to the warm weather of Mesa, Ariz., and returned to Wisconsin in March of this year to be near family.
Edner served during World War II with the U.S. Army as part of the 91st (Powder River) Infantry Division, 361st Regiment, 1st Battalion, Co. D, in North Africa, Italy, Austria and Yugoslavia. He was awarded the Combat Infantryman Badge for participation in combat against the enemy with the Fifth Army in Italy.
The following is a story as told by Edner while recalling his time fighting during WWII: The end of May in 1944, I was attached to the 34th division. I shipped out of Newport News, Camp Patrick Henry and traveled on a Liberty Ship. The ship was an equipment carrier with 500 men on board. It took us 19 days to cross the ocean. We landed in Oran, Algeria, North Africa. Then, I spent 2 weeks in amphibious beach head training.
After that, we all got on a British ship and went to Naples, Italy. We got there at about 9am. When we got to Naples, General Mark Clark gave a speech telling us that we would be put on the front lines asap. By 10pm that night we were on the beach at Anzio, Italy. We were then attached to the 34th division and went north toward the Arno River in Italy. We ended up by Pisa, Italy, but never got close to the leaning tower. Some of the officers tried to see it and were never seen again.
Then, the rest of the division caught up with us. We were on motorized patrols at night but never crossed the Arno river. We were south of the city of Florence, Italy. We were there until just before Christmas, in the mountains, in the snow. We had a heavy snow and went into a defensive position until we were able to go through the snow. We all stayed there all winter. When the snow melted in the spring, the U.S. started to bomb the Gothic defense line with 7 to 10 days of continuous bombing. It took 7 days after that to break through the line north of Florence. By the middle of May we arrived in the Po Valley. We crossed the Po Valley going 10 to 20 miles per day. We walked and sometimes we could ride on a tank. We were there when the war ended. I canít remember what town I was in when the war ended but, I was in northern Italy somewhere south of Venice. Venice was northeast of our location.
After that I was on occupation duty south of Brenner Pass near Yugoslavia, Italy and Austria. We kept order between the three countries. I stayed there until the Army gave me a 30-day leave. The Army scheduled me for the invasion of Japan. The invasion never happened because we dropped the bomb on Japan. I returned home and shipped into Newport News, Virginia, the first part of September 1945.
Edner spent his working career as a carpenter and a truck driver. He was a member of Teamster Union Local 43 in Racine and Local 710 in Chicago. He enjoyed gardening, camping, wood working and loved spending time with family and friends.
Edner is survived by his loving wife of 71 years, Eva; four children, Steven (Rita) Ellifson of Waukesha, Dale (Patricia) Ellifson of Oconomowoc, Robert (Elaine) Ellifson and Gregory (Colleen) Elllifson, both of Dousman; 11 grandchildren, Mark Ellifson of Horicon, Ryan (Valerie) Ellifson of Wauwatosa, Andrew Ellifson of Scottsdale, Ariz., Jon Ellifson of Madison, William (Dawn) Ellifson of Oak Creek, Ann (Jon) Lestina of Oconomowoc, Joseph (Kelly) Ellifson of Oconomowoc, Natalie Ellifson of Milwaukee, and Alyssa Ellifson, Christian Ellifson and Taylor Ellifson, all of Dousman; and nine great-grandchildren, Robert, David and Benjamin Ellifson, Raymond and Vincent Lestina, Cecelia and Marshall Ellifson, and Cassandra and Brady Ellifson. Edner is also survived by his brother, James Ellifson of Eau Claire; sister, Emily Berg of Dixon, Ill.; and many nieces, nephews, cousins, other family members and friends throughout Wisconsin and Arizona.
He was preceded in death by one grandson, Brian Ellifson; a sister, Adeline Skoug; and five brothers, Clifford, Vernal, Howard, Jerry and Archie.
Visitation will be held from noon until the 1 p.m. memorial service Thursday, Oct. 31, at Pagenkopf Funeral Home, 1165 E. Summit Ave., Oconomowoc.
In lieu of flowers, memorials are suggested to the family.
The family would like to thank the staff of ProHealth Hospice Care and the staff at Summit Woods for their wonderful care and support.
Pagenkopf Funeral Home is serving the family. For more information, call 567-4457 or visit www.pagenkopf.com.