James McElroy


James E. McElroy wore many hats throughout his 80 years, but the gift he shared in all aspects of his life was his ability to teach, encourage and inspire others. At 5 feet 5 inches, Jim was usually one of the smallest in the crowd, but what he lacked in physical stature, Jim made up for in heart.

From his early days in Hancock and Sidney, New York, where he competed in sports, to serving as a jungle warfare survival instructor in the U.S. Marine Corps, Jim McElroy was a natural leader of men. His tenacity and unwavering optimism helped him lead a platoon of Marines at age 19 and later lead the Ithaca College football team as quarterback. His capacity to uplift those around him and to inspire with his words and actions ensured success in many aspects of his life

The man known as Chip, Jimmy Mac, Hondo, Dad and Papa left an indelible impression on his students at Liverpool High School as the head football coach and physical education teacher. His ability to motivate made him an instant success with Ryan Homes in Atlanta, Georgia, and then at Arvida Corporation, where as vice president of construction, he helped build Sawgrass into the thriving community it is today. Unfortunately, this success was followed by the most challenging time in Jim’s life. He emerged from that painful time with humble gratitude and a raw honesty about his own shortcomings that is hard to find. Jim used his own experiences to mentor countless teenagers during his time as the director of the Nancy Reagan TPC Village Rehabilitation Center. He was selfless in his commitment to helping others.  There’s no doubt his impact on the Jacksonville recovery community will live on long after his departure from this world.

Jim had the uncanny ability to make a friend wherever he went. He developed meaningful relationships in every stage of his life, starting with his boyhood to Cascadilla Prep, University of Southern Mississippi, Adirondack Woodcraft Camp, Syracuse and Ponte Vedra Beach. They were like a second family to him. During his 40 years of living in Ponte Vedra, he was dubbed the “mayor” for his outgoing, uplifting personality.

All those who loved him knew Jim possessed a remarkable ability to weave words into a compelling story. His storytelling ability eventually led to the fulfillment of a lifetime dream to publish a novel. His book, “The Tampa Kid,” embodied many of his own life lessons: the underdog overcoming and finding a spiritual and meaningful solution to the challenges of life.

Those lessons undoubtedly helped Jim to have meaningful relationships with his adult children and through the final stage of his life. He faced a litany of diagnoses, but he faced them with dignity, courage and grace. Instead of complaining, he focused on brightening the days of those around him. On Aug. 26, 2017, he joined his first-born grandson Trenton McElroy in heaven. He leaves behind his sons and daughters-in-law, Steven and Leigh Anne McElroy and Robb and Isabella; his daughter and son-in-law, Laura and Jeff Fenske and his grandchildren Luke, Blake, Drew, Lindsey, Chloe and Morgan. He is also survived by his sister and brother-in-law, Mary and Quentin Beagle and their three children Liz, Jeffrey, John and his wife Chris. Jim loved his family dearly and was immensely proud of his three children and grandchildren.

Jim McElroy’s Memorial Service will take place Sunday, Oct. 29, 2017, at 2 p.m. at the Crosswater Community Church at 211 Davis Park Road in Ponte Vedra Beach. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to www.trentstouch.com