Missouri tornado chaser wants his ashes launched into a twister

Jim “Mad Dog” Sellars, by his own account, lived quite a life in Springfield, Mo., as an ice cream dipper, butcher, reserve policeman who once protected Elvis Presley, a telephone lineman, a twice-divorced dad with “exes” he felt lucky to have loved and as a 6-foot-7 power-hitting softball player.

But perhaps most notably, for 30 years, before his massive heart and lungs went bad and confined him to bed, he was a man with an uncanny ability to read radar and chase down more than 100 tornadoes in a lifetime, while helping others to do the same.

“He had a Ford pickup truck,” said Sellars’ older brother John, the director of Springfield’s History Museum on the Square. “If he knew (a tornado) was going to set up somewhere, in Oklahoma, or Alabama, he would load up with a couple of people and go chase.”

Given such a whirlwind life, it was hardly surprising that Sellars, who died Tuesday in Springfield at age 64, would declare in the last line of his self-written obituary that he planned to go out in the same fashion.

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