James C. Buddy McElroy passed away on January 7, 2018, surrounded by his family. He was 79 years old.
Buddy, as he was affectionately known, was born on May 28, 1938, at Rush Hospital to James C. McElroy, Sr. and Celeste Swain McElroy. He spent his childhood in Cuba, Alabama, working with his father in the family farming business.
In 1954 Buddy, along with his mother, attended an evangelistic series in Meridian, MS. As a result, he was baptized and gave his heart to The Lord, joining the Seventh-Day Adventist
Buddy began attending the University of West Alabama in 1956, but decided to transfer to
Southern Adventist University, a Seventh-Day Adventist school located outside Chattanooga,
TN, in 1958. While at Southern, Buddy fell in love with his classmate, Cynthia Joy Tanner, from Americus, GA. He graduated in 1960 with a B.S. in Business Administration and married Joy in 1961.
After graduating college Buddy returned to Cuba and in 1960 was hired by Rush Hospital as a
Management Trainee becoming Assistant Purchasing Manager in 1961. In 1968 he was named Administrator of Rush Foundation Hospital and Rush Medical Group. Recognizing changing healthcare trends, and the need for quality healthcare, especially in the rural areas of East
Mississippi and West Alabama, Buddy was instrumental in founding Rush Health Systems in
1983 and became its first President and CEO. In 1992 he became Chairman of the Board of
Rush Health Systems. Buddy retired from Rush in 1998, but continued to serve as Chairman of the Board for Rush Health Systems until his death.
Shortly after he began working for Rush in the early 1960's, Buddy realized a lifelong dream by starting his own business. In 1964 he purchased one pulpwood truck, a power saw and a loader. The company grew throughout the 1960's and was incorporated as Sumter Timber in the late 1960's. Over the next 10 years the company expanded into trucking. In the 1980s company operations were split and McElroy Truck Lines was formed. Over the next 25 years both Sumter Timber and McElroy Truck Lines expanded and new companies were added including H&M Construction (industrial commercial construction), Sumter Management (real estate and timber management) and most recently Two Rivers Lumber (lumber mill). Under Buddy's leadership and vision, what started with one pulpwood truck, grew into one of the largest flatbed trucking companies in the country, with numerous related companies.
During his lifetime Buddy served on numerous Boards including Rush Health Systems, Southern Adventist University, East Mississippi Business Development Corporation, and Chairman of the Board of The Bank of York.
Buddy McElroy had a deep faith and gave God the glory for all the blessings in his life. His church was extremely important to him and he was a lifelong member of the Meridian Seventh-Day Adventist church and was instrumental in their multiple building campaigns over the years.
He held almost every position in the church including teacher, Deacon, Elder, and Board member. Most of all he was a friend, and loved his church family.
The two most important things in Buddy's life were his love of God and family, followed closely by an extremely strong work ethic. He was a wonderful husband, father, grandfather, father-in- law and a steady rock. His passing will leave a void that can never be filled. Buddy's greatest wish, as he often relayed to his wife, was for all his family to be together in heaven.
Buddy is preceded in death by his parents, J.C. and Celeste McElroy and brother, Charles
He is survived by his wife of 57 years, Joy Tanner McElroy; son, Glenn; son, Jay and his wife, Stefanie; son, Sean and his wife, Toni; and 5 grandchildren, Cody, Kevin, Britton, Holden, Malone, and Codys wife, Jeanette. He is also survived by his sister, Janice McElroy Linna, her husband, Yuri Linna, her children Lars Phelps, his wife, Christine Phelps and Stephanie Phelps Kirschmann and her husband Dusty Kirschmann.
Visitation will be held at the Community Seventh-Day Adventist Church located at 6258 MS-39 in Meridian, MS from 3-7 p.m. on Thursday, January 11, 2018.
The funeral service will be held at NorthPark Church located at 7770 MS-39 in Meridian, MS at 1 p.m. on Friday, January 12, 2018.
In lieu of flowers the family requests donations be made to MD Anderson Cancer Center.
Checks can be made out to MD Anderson Cancer Center, with Dr. Dejka Araujo Sarcoma
Research written on the memo line and mailed to:
Dejka Araujo, MD
MD Anderson Cancer Center
P.O. Box 301402
Houston TX 77230-1402
Donations can also be made via internet at: Mdanderson.org/gift
There is a designation for where gift should go, please mark "other" and type in: Dr. Dejka Araujo Research.
Family and friends may sign the online guestbook at robertbarhamffh.com.
Published on January 9, 2018