Drowning victim McElroy saved others with organ donation

GROVES — Keith McElroy continues to help others even after his death.

McElroy, 52, of Groves, slipped into a Port Neches canal on Dec. 21 and died two days later from drowning. He was an organ donor and on Christmas Day seven recipients were notified of the life saving donation, his wife, Ruby McElroy, said.

The deceased is known for being generous, loving and fun loving.

“He’s the kind of guy who never met a stranger,” Ruby McElroy said.

Cheryl Sheppard, Keith McElroy’s sister, said her brother was demonstrative in his love of family and friends.

“Keith was fun loving. At family get-togethers he was the life of the party,” Sheppard said. “Every time he’d see me he’d come up and give me the biggest hug. Friday night (before the drowning) he came over and told us how much he loved everybody. We’re not a hugging family but Keith was. And he would do anything for anybody. Give his last penny.”

Keith McElroy was the owner of Keith’s AC, she said, and would often do work for free if the customer was strapped for cash.

“That’s just the type of person he was,” she said. “He helped others. He loved everybody.”

For Ruby McElroy, Dec. 21 started out like any other day. Her husband picked her up from work at Sneaky Pete’s on Pure Atlantic Road and headed home. A friend of her husband came by and asked Keith if he wanted to go with him down the road.

Ruby McElroy said she’d ride along because she needed to go to the store but Keith said he’d only be gone a short time.

“He kissed me and told me he loved me,” Ruby McElroy said adding she then went to the kitchen to start cooking meatloaf.

Keith took off his Crocs and put on a pair of boots. The Crocs are still on the porch where he left them, she said.

More than an hour passed and Ruby McElroy began to worry. Then she got a phone call from a niece who was so shook up with emotion that that woman’s husband had to take the phone. She learned her husband was in the emergency room and doctors were working on him.

“I thought, they must have the wrong Keith,” she said.

Doctors at the hospital told her Keith had drowned, he was not responding and was on life support. CAT scans, which usually don’t show damage for 24 to 48 hours were already indicating Keith had went too long without oxygen.

“He never came back,” she said.

Ruby McElroy held vigil at the hospital and on Dec. 23 her husband was declared dead. Then, on Christmas Day, recipients were notified of Keith’s organ donations. Surgery was performed the next day.

“One day we’ll meet him again and everyone he’s helped,” she said.

Keith McElroy did not have insurance and a GoFundMe account has been set up to help with funeral expenses. A benefit is in the works for early January at Sneaky Pete’s, 3900 Pure Atlantic Road in Groves.

A memorial service will be held at 4 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 4, at Encounter Church, 5300 Twin City Hwy. in Groves.

McElroy is survived by his wife, Ruby; son, Korry McElroy of Beaumont; daughter, Kelsey McElroy of Nederland; step-daughters, Selena and Carry Moreau of Groves; brother, Ricky McElroy of Groves; sister Cheryl Sheppard and husband John Sheppard of Groves. He is preceded in death by his parents Glen and Leatrice “Peachy” Melancon McElroy of Groves and brothers Curtis McElroy and Gerald McElroy of Groves.

E-mail: mary.meaux@panews.com

Twitter: MaryMeauxPANews

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