Waxahachie mourns the loss of one of its true “native sons” and a life-long community and civic leader, Pat McElroy who passed away at his home Friday.

McElroy retired in 1988 from Waxahachie Federal Savings and Loan where he served as president.

His daughter, Kathy Moore recalls the years of service her dad gave to his community.

“He served for a number of years on the Waxahachie City Council and also mayor,” she said. “He was active in the Chamber of Commerce, and served as president for a while and was voted Chamber of Commerce Outstanding Citizen in 1991. He was a graduate of Texas Christian University and was purple through and through.”

McElroy was active in the Optimist Club and the PTO at the schools where his children attended. McElroy’s wife, Jean Claire, who passed away in 1986, taught fourth-grade in Waxahachie for several years.

“Dad continued to be very active and was a picture of health right up to his 80th birthday,” she said. “But not long after that, because of a surgery he had to repair an aneurism on his aorta, he suffered major kidney damage – and then couple that with heart failure, the medications worked against each other and it had slowed him down quite a bit – but he was playing golf virtually every day as recent as three months ago.

Lifelong friend, neighbor and city leader Joe Jenkins recalls the early days of his and McElroy’s childhoods together roaming the streets of the Gingerbread City.

“We grew up next door to each other and we played together – we were constant companions,” Jenkins said. “He always referred to me as the ‘old guy’ because I was six months older than he was. So the way our birthdays fell, he graduated from Waxahachie High School in 1943 and I graduated in 1942.”

But the friendship even predates their births because Jenkins said his mother and McElroy’s mother, who were neighbors, were pregnant with their sons at the same time.

“We always joked about being ‘womb mates,’” Joe said with a chuckle, saying that wasn’t all the two boys had in common. “Of course, when he graduated, he went off to TCU and then on into the Army – and I went to University of Texas and then went on into the Navy – but I always kept up with him.”

When McElroy got out of the service, he returned to his hometown, while Jenkins lived away for many years. But that didn’t keep them from having other things in common.

“We both married girls from Corpus Christi, and he was in my wedding and I was in his,” Jenkins said. “Not only that, our wives knew each other before we married.”

Then instantly, Jenkin’s memories went back to boyhood pranks and experiences, recalling the summers the two spent in scout camp at Camp Wisdom, and hanging out at Happy Drummond’s Hamburger Stand.

But one of the most amusing stories Jenkins shared was the time he and Pat discovered a sunken boat at the lake at the country club.

“I was just looking at the picture of me and Pat posing with the row boat we found,” he said. “One of Pat’s brothers had told us that one of the laws of the seas was that if you find a sunken boat, you can bring it up and claim it as your own. So we took it and patched it up and painted it – but as it turned out, the owner of the boat came forward and said it was his – so we discovered that that ‘law of the sea’ didn’t work for us at all.”

Jenkins and McElroy often talked about their parents being buried close to each other at the City Cemetery.

“Our parents were neighbors on Sycamore Street all through the years, and today, they are still neighbors,” Jenkins said.

Jenkins noted that McElroy served in virtually every capacity in both the community and in the city.

Waxahachie mayor N.B. “Buck” Jordan commented on the passing of McElroy.

“Pat, and really the whole McElroy family have been very supportive of Waxahachie, and have been instrumental in the growth of our city,” Jordan said. “He served in every capacity in civic work.  I just can’t say enough about what all he has done to help – it’s just hard to put into words.

Jordan noted that McElroy was always ready to serve his community.

“They were just a wonderful, wonderful family, and Pat is certainly going to be missed.” he said.

Daily Light Editor Neal White agreed.

“I was deeply saddened to hear about Pat’s passing,” said White, who learned about McElroy’s death when the obituary was sent to the newsroom Saturday afternoon.

“Pat’s leadership in this community will be missed. His knowledge of the community and his willingness to serve will leave a tremendous void that will be difficult to replace. While I have served on boards of various civic organizations, Pat was always someone I could call for direction and advice,” White said. “He truly loved this community and was always willing to step up and help find ways to make a difference. He was not only a friend, but a role model and mentor — not just to me, but to a lot of people in the community.”

Services for McElroy will be held at 3 p.m. this afternoon in the family’s long-time church – Central Presbyterian Church, with the Rev. Anna Whitehead officiating.

Contact Paul at paul.gauntt@wninews.com or 469-517-1450.