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BELLINGHAM, Wash. — Professor Larry M. Elison died in his sleep in the early hours of Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017, from complications of pneumonia.

He is survived by his wife, Deborah Elison; his brother, William Elison (Barbara); four children, Martin J. Elison (Ange), Mark W. Elison (Karla), Bradley L. Elison (Jennifer), and Lorraine Freeman (Doug); two stepchildren, Amanda Pennell and Tori Pennell (he was predeceased by Todd Pennell); and many grandchildren including Lillian Elison, David Elison, Erik Elison, Alexandra Elison, Emily Elison, Gregory Elison, Matthew Freeman, Megan Freeman, Grant Kelly, Lauren Kelly, and Amanda’s children Oliver, Derek and Austin. 

Larry Elison was born on Nov. 11, 1932, in Blackfoot, Idaho, where his parents, Wilford and LaRue Elison, owned and operated a dairy. Larry and many members of his extended family were deeply involved in the horse racing business. After many years training and racing in Idaho and Montana Larry eventually worked his way into the more elite levels of the racing industry, training and racing thoroughbreds at Bay Meadows and Golden Gate Fields, in California. One of the highlights of his racing career occurred in 1992 when he nominated his horse, Salapache, to the Kentucky Derby.

Professor Elison worked most of his life in Missoula as a law professor at the Alexander Blewett III Law School at the University of Montana. He started his career at the Law School in 1962, teaching torts, criminal law and criminal procedure. He later taught constitutional law, his favorite class. Professor Elison was a very popular teacher who masterfully employed the Socratic method to encourage students to use their understanding of the law to debate, defend and, ultimately, learn the rules of law. When not teaching or racing horses, Larry found time to be active in the legal community of the state and was instrumental in drafting language for the 1972 Montana Constitution and Montana’s Criminal Code.

After 30 years of service at the U of M Law School, Professor Elison retired to Gold Canyon, Arizona, where he took up golf, wrote and published a reference guide for The Montana State Constitution, and wrote several amicus curiae briefs in an effort to protect the language and meaning of the State Constitution. He will be fondly remembered for his infectious laugh, progressive thought and caring nature.

A memorial and celebration of Professor Elison’s life will be held at the Alexander Blewett III School of Law on Thursday, Dec. 21, at 5 p.m. in room 101, with a reception to follow at 231 S. Fifth St. E. Donations may be made to the Law School to help establish a scholarship in Professor Elison’s name.

the life of: Larry M. Elison
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