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Howard Chowning McElroy, beloved husband, father, grandfather and brother passed away peacefully on January 5, 2023, at his home.
He was born to the late Charles and Verna Mae McElroy in Shreveport, Louisiana on March 26, 1946. Shortly after, he moved to Lake Charles, Louisiana where he spent the years until college.
In July 1964 he began his first career at the United States Military Academy (USMA) at West Point. After graduation and commissioning in the Signal Corps and Military Intelligence, he spent time at Fort Gordon, Fort Monmouth, Fort Carson, Fort Holabird and Fort Huachuca. He served in I-Corps in Vietnam from July 1970 to June 1971. For the remainder of his Army career he was stationed in San Diego California, where he worked for DIS- the Defense Intelligence Service. In all these places he made lifelong friends.
After his Army service, he enrolled in Georgetown University Law School where, in addition to classes, he worked for the dean of the law school.
In 1977, he moved with his young family to Abingdon, Virginia, which he loved so much that he never moved away. He joined the law firm of White Elliott and Bundy and soon became partner. The firm evolved through many name changes and was McElroy and Hodges when he and his law partner, Jim Hodges, closed the practice in December 2016. His law practice was primarily one of civil litigation. He loved his job and served his clients in Southwestern Virginia well for 40 years.
Throughout his career he was an active volunteer and leader. He was a member of the Abingdon Jaycees, and the Rotary Club of Abingdon, where he served as President and had the “honor” of having an annual award named after him. He was awarded a Paul Harris by his fellow Rotarians. He was instrumental in the beginnings of The William King Museum. The Rotary Club provided money and manpower to refurbish the very first space at William King. He was a former member of St. Thomas Episcopal Church where he served on the Vestry.
Barter Theatre was one recipient of his love.
In 1992, Howard was elected to the Board of Directors where he served until his death. He was on the search committee that brought Richard Rose to Barter.
Howard not only worked tirelessly in his community, he was very active in Virgina law associations. He was a fellow of the American Bar Association and a fellow of the Virginia Law Foundation. He was a member of the Judicial Conference of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, and a member of the Boyd-Graves Conference. He was a member and past President of Virginia Association of Defense Attorneys (an organization dear to him) and a member and past Executive Committee member of The Virginia Bar Association. He was also a member of the American Board of Trial Advocates (Virginia chapter), The International Association of Defense Counsel, The Association of Defense Trial Attorneys, The Defense Research Institute, The American Bar Association and The Virginia State Bar. He was a part of the faculty course on professionalism for the Virginia State Bar. He was a lecturer for continuing legal educational seminars for insurance law. He edited the 2015 edition of “Insurance Law in Virginia” and he co- authored the section on Fire Insurance.
In addition to his Family, work and volunteerism , Howard cherished his time fly fishing with the Abingdon Anglers of which he was a founding member. Studying the moving waters of a trout stream in his home state or some far flung place, Howard found his strongest connection to the natural world. This connection was bolstered by and shared with some of his dearest friends, his fishing buddies.
His humming was legendary in both professional and social circles. His children’s favorite memories include Sunday afternoon drives, mooing at cows, and visiting every county courthouse in the state of Virginia.
Remaining to cherish his memory are his wife of 52 years, Heidi Hansen McElroy, and his children: Karen (Mike) Mason of Abingdon, Christopher McElroy of Hudson, New York and Andrew (Lauren Johnson) McElroy of Austin, Minnesota; his grandchildren Caroline and Rhys Mason of Abingdon; his siblings Harley (Priscilla) McElroy of Lafayette, Louisiana, Harriet (Randy Dornier) Gaiennie of Baton Rouge, Louisiana and Philip McElroy, Colorado. He is also survived by his sister-in-law Ingrid Hansen of Folsom, Louisiana and brother-in-law Joe (Jan) Hansen of Liverpool, New York, and by numerous nieces, nephews, and their children.
Howard was the recipient of a successful kidney transplant that lasted 30 years. His family is grateful to the transplant team at Wake Forest Baptist Hospital, and to the care of Dr. Maung Kyi and the late Dr. Ernie Henry of the Abingdon Dialysis Clinic, and his primary care physicians Dr. Jennifer Jonkers, the retired Dr. Martin Monahan, and to all those who provided care for him, including Amedysis Home Health.
A Celebration of Life is planned for the Spring of 2023. In lieu of flowers, Howard’s family suggests expressions of sympathy be shown by a donation to Barter Theatre or the charity of your choice.
Howard McElroy: a life well lived. Keep on humming.
The family of Howard Chowning McElroy is being cared for by Farris Funeral Service & Crematory, Main Street location, 427 E. Main Street, Abingdon, VA 276-623-2700.
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