Willie Sanders Ellison, while performing Christian Service at Sacramento County Juvenile Hall, in his last earthly hours, was called home to be with the Lord on September 10th, just 20 days before his 85th birthday and 7 days shy of his 58th  wedding anniversary. He was a faithful son, brother, husband to Ruby Ellison, father to Michael, Aaron and DeNelle and three grandchildren, community activist, friend to many and a devout, faithful Christian – an active, loyal member/leader at St. Andrews AME Church. The son of share-croppers, he was the first in his family to graduate college, after leaving the segregated cotton fields of Arkansas and serving in the Army. He graduated from San Francisco State University where he was a Western Conference Champion 1/2miler. He became a member of Omega Psi Phi, Epsilon Xi Chapter, at San Francisco State University in 1956 and over the years, served in every capacity including President. He was an active faithful Omega Man for 59 years. A Charles Stewart Mott Foundation Fellow, he earned his PhD. at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Dr. Ellison was at the top of his game.

Right out of college, he was the first African American to ever work in the Santa Clara County Probation Department Juvenile Hall, rising to Supervisor of Delinquency Prevention and becoming an expert on Prevention and how to best serve youth. Mid-nineteen seventies, Governor Jerry Brown appointed him as Deputy Chief of the Department of Veteran Affairs, he directed a staff of 1,700 and a budget of over $1 billion dollars. In 1980, he was again appointed by the Governor to serve on the Youth Offender Parole Board. He was a college professor at CSU San Jose, Sacramento and Santa Cruz, and Chief of Staff to Senator Diane Watson, who now serves in the United States Congress. Dr. Ellison had a long and distinguished career in Criminal Justice Administration as Director of Education and Training for California Military Departments IMPACT Program, Director of Education and Training for Realizing Potentials, and Consultant to the State Office of Criminal Justice Planning, and Co-Founder of Community Crime Prevention Associates (CCPA).  Willie S. Ellison had a long history of involvement in race relations and civil rights issues. He was Regional Director of the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc., and Past President of the Sacramento Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). He was considered one of the regions premier spokespersons on the issue of racial discrimination and bias. Every planting season he blessed his church family and neighbors with the abundance from his garden. It was the place where he drew close to God - it was his prayer closet.  His most favorite saying was, "God's influence is like a compass. It does not force you to stay on course, but it guides you and tells you when you are off!"