DECATUR– Tears for the late Mayor Mike McElroy continued to flow on Thursday as hundreds of family members, friends, and colleagues gathered to pay their final respects, but in addition to tears of mourning, there were also tears of laughter as people heard and told stories of the man affectionately known as ‘Tuna’.
Holy Family Church Pastor Joe Molloy presided over the funeral that also included touching words from Helen Albert, McElroy’s youngest brother Tim, and a eulogy delivered by McElroy’s close friend Joel Fletcher.
“Mike was a proud member of the Decatur community and he would always be the first to jump in to say something positive about the city,” Molloy added. “He was always prepared to face a problem and to confront it, he never avoided anything and one of the most memorable things about the Mayor is that he didn’t lead from his office in the Civic Center, he went to the neighborhoods, he went to a person’s house to meet them face to face and to hear them out, because he needed to see them and feel them and to listen to their struggle.”
McElroy’s youngest brother Tim spoke fondly of the late mayor, saying how McElroy was always warm and inviting, even if he showed it with tough love, “He used to beat me up but I remember the first time that I knew he cared about me; it was when I took over the paper route he and my brother previously had and it wasn’t but two weeks into it and I got robbed. I remember going home and crying, my dad and mom and Tuna were all in the living room and before my dad could even get to the phone Tuna was out the door and looking for these guys, it was at that moment that I knew he cared.”
Fletcher, whose friendship with McElroy developed in the 1980s, was tasked with delivering the eulogy for the man he considered his closest friend. During the nearly 20 minute address, Fletcher told many stories highlighting the mayor’s famous sense of humor, his tireless work ethic, “He loved the Decatur Celebration so much that on many occasions he worked, not just an hour or two, but all three days,” and his love for the community, “Tunas was so proud to be elected to the council and was so proud to be the Mayor, not because of the power, but because he loved this community so much.”
McElroy won his first bid for Decatur City Council in 2003, was selected as the Mayor of Decatur in 2009, and won his most recent bid for reelection in April of this year. In addition to being the Mayor, McElroy was the Vice President of Skeff Distributing, a member of the Illinois Municipal League, board member for the Decatur YMCA, and was an avid supporter of St. Teresa High School, where he graduated in 1970. McElroy passed away last Friday morning after suffering a heart attack while driving his vehicle. McElroy is survived by his wife, Lynn, and son, Matthew.