Eugene (Gene) Jellison is a rare fourth generation Californian who grew up in the small town of Susanville, located 80 miles north of Reno, Nevada. Among his ancestors is Patrick Dunn, a relative of his grandmother’s, who participated in the Donner party rescue.
Gene met his first wife at the local theater where they both worked while they went to high school. Six months after they married he was drafted and joined the Air Force. During his four-year tour of duty he worked as a radio operator and was stationed all over the country, including stints in Mississippi, Texas, the National Security Agency in Washington D.C., Alaska, and California.
The Jellisons remained on the West Coast after Gene’s honorable discharge in 1956. He took a job as a technician at Sylvania in Mountain View and earned an electrical engineering degree from San Jose State University in the evenings. He then moved to ESL Incorporated, where he worked on strategic signal processing systems for the military. Gene was in the office when romantically obsessed former employee Richard Farley went on his murderous rampage.
Retired since 1992, Gene decided to join the El Camino Hospital Auxiliary seven years ago. His first wife had been diabetic and a frequent patient before she died. Gene felt a strong connection to the hospital as well as a desire to serve. He started out as a parking lot shuttle driver, “but it got too cold outside, so I took an inside job.” He is now chair of the greeters, responsible for training and making sure the front desk is covered. He works there three days per week, usually in the mornings. Utilizing his technical background, Gene also computerized all the information that front desk volunteers need and makes sure to keep it up to date. The handbook has more than 500 entries and took him six months to compile.
A patient at El Camino Hospital himself recently, Gene knows how important volunteers are to the institution. “I like to help people, to interface with them. Two people today told me how much they appreciate what I do and that in itself is very gratifying.” He has made new friends among the other volunteers and was appreciative of their visits when he was hospitalized.
Remarried but without heirs, Gene is now thinking about the future. He decided to make a planned gift to El Camino Hospital Foundation, a charitable gift annuity. “Folks at ECH need the money and my family doesn’t,” he says. “Some of the doctors have become my friends and El Camino Hospital is a very special place.” His legacy gift is the latest act of service in a lifetime of many.