Obituary: Jack McElroy
April 21, 2009
Jack McElroy, lifelong Kremmling resident, rancher, aviator, beloved husband, father, grandfather and brother, passed away late Easter Sunday of a sudden heart attack in Florence, Ariz.
Jack was joyously welcomed to the world in the Kremmling hospital on Feb. 10, 1934 by his father and mother, Isabel and Joe McElroy and an older brother, Pat. Two sisters, Theresa and Mary Ellen, and another brother, Dan completed the family.
His early years were spent on the Pass Creek ranch north of Kremmling. These were years of hard work and lots of mischief.
When Jack was 11 years old, the family moved to the ranch just south of Kremmling, still occupied by the family today. Jack loved every aspect of ranching life. Watching the earth renew itself each spring while baby calves kicked up their heels; cussing the lack of water on the hay when it is growing and the plentitude of rain on the hay during harvest; fixing the fences, the cars, the tractors (fortunately, everything is repairable with baling wire and duct tape), guiding the irrigation, feeding the animals through the long winter”he couldn’t ever contemplate any other life.
Jack was a self-taught snow skier and loved the sport. He helped to build Baker Mountain ski area, a two-rope-tow operation, at the base of rabbit ears pass in the early 50’s and it was here that he really developed his technique, becoming one of the most graceful and talented skiers to ever grace the slopes.
He completed high school and one year of college at Regis in Denver, but felt that he had all the “book learning” he needed to run the ranch.
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He was drafted into the peacetime army in 1956 and spent time in Europe, predominantly Germany. While there he learned to water-ski and participated in many trick water skiing competitions, even forming pyramids with several people. During this time, he also had the opportunity to do some downhill skiing and won an international gold medal for ski patrol. However, he was desperately homesick for the high mountain meadows of Colorado and the ranching life. His return voyage across the Atlantic, with gigantic swells and seasick sailors on every bunk became a story of legend in the family.
He returned to Colorado to find a young and lovely schoolteacher, Mary Kay Buscovick of Winona, Minn., boarding with his family and promptly fell into life-long love with her. Fortunately for him, she fell in love with him too and they were married on June 6, 1960. They shared 49 years of happiness and contentment, more in love with each other every day, a love that they liberally shared with everyone they met.
In addition to the ranch, Jack was a real estate broker owning and operating a real estate company for years in Kremmling with Mary Kay as salesperson. He designed, developed and built a 70 unit mobile home park, providing much needed housing for the community.
Jack was active in the community, serving on the School Board and the Medical Foundation and was a member of the Middle Park Stock Growers. He was the announcer for the Kremmling Days parade and the superintendent of the Team Pulling contest at the Middle Park Fair and Rodeo for years.
At the age of 55, Jack realized a life-long dream, learning to fly a small plane. He spent countless hours buzzing around the sky over Kremmling, in addition to longer flights across the country. It delighted him so much to fly around looking down upon the ground that he had walked, hunted, fished, camped, and moved cattle across during his life. He continued to fly the plane throughout the rest of his life and was scheduled for his yearly flight physical at the time of his death”planning to spend much of the summer in the air.
Jack and Mary Kay were able to take many fantastic trips, starting 40 years ago. They began with great family vacations– all six bouncing around in the old yellow van traveling around the desert southwest, camping and hiking. In later years they were able to travel to more exotic locations such as Mexico, Canada, Nassau, the Caribbean, Holland, Nova Scotia, Australia and New Zealand, in addition to many miles across the US in their motor home. Jack loved these trips, and everyone treasured the stories he brought back.
In 2000, Jack and Mary Kay began moving south during the winters”leaving the frozen snowfields of Colorado for the sunny golf courses of Arizona. Along with many other Grand County residents, they found Florence Arizona a wonderful winter haven. Jack loved to golf and, this spring, he scored his first hole in one. His wide group of friends, acquaintances and golfing buddies in Arizona will miss him terribly.
Jack never stopped learning. He never lost his childlike curiosity about life. He loved this world and the people in it. He was continually excited to see new ways of living and thinking. He was fascinated with the power of the mind, thoughts, love and what was on the other side. There were endless hours and late nights talking about new philosophies and old. He lived his belief of unconditional love and non-judgment and graced all of those in his life with it. His life was his message.
He was a natural teacher. He was always eager to go new places and try new things. Throughout his life he guided and mentored those around him, passing on a passion and fearlessness to explore not only new experiences, but also new ways of thinking. He was a thrifty soul who threw nothing useful away and requested that his body be gifted to help others. His legacy of teaching and philanthropy continues today with the donation of his physical body to scientific study and the donation of his organs to countless people.
Jack took enormous delight in his family, his children, their spouses and his grandchildren. He truly knew how to enjoy every single minute of every single day. He never envied others for what they owned (except for the occasional piece of heavy machinery) and never spoke ill of anyone. He had one goal each day”that was to lift the spirits of each and every person he encountered that day.
He was a gentle, caring and happy man, and was always an optimist. He would always see the best in those around him. He leaves as his legacy on this earth his beloved wife, Mary Kay, his daughters, Chris (Dave) Sammons, Karen (Rick) Horowitz and Jodi (Mike) Graf, his son, Kelly (Cord) McElroy, and his grandchildren, Dustin Graf, Dillan Sammons and Cole Sammons.