We are heartbroken to announce that David Ellings — someone embodying the true inspiration, character, and spirit of Western CUNA Management School — has passed. His legacy will never be forgotten.
Ellings, a Lambda Class graduate of 1989, was Director of Campus Activities and has supported the lives of WCMS students, staff, and faculty since 1990. He unselfishly sacrificed the greater part of his professional life for the development and philosophy of WCMS, helping to better the lives of thousands of students, instructors, and alumni across the 13 states the school serves.
WCMS and the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues know that many industry colleagues — whether a student, alumnus, faculty of the school, or a fellow credit union colleague — are carrying the school’s torch forward using the same principles Ellings embraced to lift the lives of fellow leaders and members at credit unions across the nation.
“When I started at WCMS, David was graduating — and the next year he was my class Graduate Assistant,” said Diana Dykstra, President of WCMS (‘92) and President and CEO of the Leagues. “The rest is history as he returned each year to support all students in achieving success.”
Dykstra isn’t the only credit union leader who was distinctly influenced by Ellings. He was involved and made an impact in the lives of all kinds of WCMS students — those from different states, backgrounds, leadership positions, and credit unions.
“For over 30 years, David shared his energy, comedy, brilliance, experience, leadership and heart with generations of WCMS students,” said Dr. Michael Steinberger, Dean and Chief Academic Officer of WCMS. “His focus on supporting students to go back to their credit unions and give back to their members was an inspiration not just to me, but thousands of our alumni, faculty, and staff.”
Ellings was responsible for coordinating the non-academic side of campus life for WCMS. He worked closely with each class and each year’s graduate assistants in planning events and activities, chairing the student council, and overseeing many aspects of campus life each summer at Pomona College in Claremont, CA.
He also served as a Graduate Assistant to the 1990 Mu and 1991 Nu classes. While managing so many aspects of the school, Ellings’ most significant impact was through his one-on-one interactions and encouragement. From sharing a funny story, to a laugh or a hug, he empathetically engaged with every WCMS student he worked with. Ellings challenged each one to become the credit union leader he saw in them.
In 2007, Ellings received the Unsung Hero Award from the California Credit Union League for his participation, commitment, and leadership in the credit union movement. Before this, he served on the League’s Beach Cities and Southwest Chapter Board of Governors for 22 years. In 1991, he chaired the steering committee for the League’s Palm Tree Conference. He also served six years as District Delegate for the Southwest Chapter of the League, where he served on many committees, including Fiscal Affairs, Bylaws, and Awards.
He was previously Chief Lending Officer at South Bay Credit Union in Redondo Beach, CA — a credit union he served for 40 years. When Ellings retired from South Bay, the credit union worked with WCMS to name a scholarship after him. Before becoming a credit union professional, he worked for USLIFE/Imperial Savings & Loan, starting out as a teller and working his way to assistant branch manager.
David is survived by his partner, Doug Bothwell.
We’ve created a “David Ellings: WCMS Inspiration” page on kudoboard. Please feel free to comment on just how much David was an inspiration in your life and leadership development!
WCMS is also working on additional tributes honoring the impact David made on WCMS students, and the school will share those at a future date. He volunteered and dedicated an important part of his life to the credit union movement and WCMS in so many ways over so many decades — with a vigor, spark, and loyalty that all credit union leaders and WCMS alumni can learn from.
“We are grateful and honored he was a part of our lives as we move forward with our school’s principles that he was so committed to,” Dykstra said. “We will always remember the impact he made on our school and the lives of our alumni.”