By Susan Malone
Edward M. McElroy has died at 91 years of age. The communities of Chicago and its outlying suburbs mourn the loss of a great man. It is truly the end of an era.
Everyone knew Ed McElroy. He was one of a kind. He was known for his radio and television appearances as early as the 1940‘s. Ed was active in the field of news and sports on WJOB, WIND and WJJD radio for over 67 years. He was the host of “Community in Focus” on Channel 19, and received numerous awards for news coverage in the United States. Ed had entertained hospitalized veterans and underprivileged children for many years. He was Past National Commander and Past State Commander of the Catholic War Veterans of the United States.
McElroy built and ran one of the largest public relations firms of its time. Amazingly, he worked this business full time up until his death. He worked side-by-side with his lovely wife Rita. Ed and Rita were married for over 60 years and Ed still lovingly referred to Rita as his bride.
“Ed McElroy was the living embodiment of the city of Chicago and its history for most of the past century. But more than that, he was a good man, hard-working and decent, certain in his faith and family, devoted to his wife Rita and their children and grandchildren, reliable to his friends and colleagues. He helped countless judges, politicians, and government servants navigate the labyrinth of public life. Ed not only knew you, he knew your father, and he would share moments that happened 60 years ago as clearly as if they happened yesterday. I had dinner with him two weeks ago yesterday, and he was, as always, marveling at his longevity and the good fortune he has enjoyed; it’s hard to believe he’s gone. Ed was truly among the very last of a tremendous generation. He was a good friend and I will always miss him,” stated his friend Neil Steinberg, Chicago Sun-Times.
Ed was definitely old school. Old school in the way that he thought of family and friends, and old school in his remarkable approach to business. He always stated that to be successful, you needed to establish relationships – people to people. You needed to always look your best and have your shoes shined. You needed to be a man of your word. You needed to know people and get to know everything about them. You should be available to celebrate their victories and mourn their losses. You needed to be loyal to God and country.
State Senator Martin Sandoval said, “Ed was a great man. He had such a joyful spirit that touched everyone who knew him. We feel truly lucky to have been able to know him and will miss him dearly.” Ed was quite the character, quite the interesting man. He was a dapper gentleman, a storyteller, an icon, a friend.
Mr. McElroy lived a full and robust life. He never drank, never smoked a cigarette, and never drank a cup of coffee. He kept very active. Ed was quite the star on the basketball court, up until a few years ago. He knew how to laugh. And, he had respect for one and all. He was an example to many.
Constable of Chicago? Yes, that was Ed McElroy. It was an honor bestowed upon him by his long-time friend Alderman Edward M. Burke (14) on July 19, 2015. This came about one day prior to Ed’s 90th birthday. Ed received 100’s of awards over the course of his lifetime, but this one was quite special to him.
“To see Ed McElroy walk down the street was truly a wonder to behold. Like a one-man PR machine he knew the name of every crossing guard, traffic aide and police officer. Ed never missed a political event,” recalled Alderman Burke. “The stories surrounding Ed’s long and colorful life pay testament to the old Chicago adage that who you know in life really does matter. He was a very dear friend who will be remembered and missed by countless people whose lives he touched in such a positive way.”
Ed’s life and times entwined with Hyde Park occasionally over the years. During one of Ed’s appearances in the area, he met a young state senator, Barack Obama. They bumped into each other at this particular event and started talking. Ed ended up driving President Obama home and formed a lasting friendship on the way. Ed was heard saying that he was very impressed with this classy, young man. He spent many a day with Barack Obama, introducing this rising star to elected officials, dignitaries, and newspaper publishers far and wide.
Ed was a valued friend to the common man, to mayors, governors, and even presidents of the United States. Those that knew him can testify to the impact that he has made on society. He will be remembered as a good and a decent man. Rest easy, my friend.
Ed McElroy was the beloved husband of Rita Marie; loving father of Edward T. (Demetra) McElroy, Beth (Jack) Kirkwood and David McElroy, Ret. CFD; proud grandfather of Danny, Lily, Mike, Tim and Megan and the late Emily. McElroy passed away on October 13, 2016. Visitation was held at Curley Funeral Home, 6116 W. 111th Street in Chicago Ridge on October 16, 2016 and his funeral was held on October 17, 2016 from St. Germaine Church, 9711 S. Kolin Avenue in Oak Lawn.