John Edward McElhiney was born to Helen Bryan McElhiney and Max Otis McElhiney in St. Joseph, Missouri, on March 8, 1939. He was preceded in death by a sibling, Billie, age six, who died of spinal meningitis on Christmas Day the year before John was born. John grew up in Rock Port, Missouri, where he loved every minute of his formative school years – holding onto his letter sweater as a proud Rock Port Blue Jay who lettered playing quarterback for the football team and starting on the basketball team.
After graduation, John attended his parents’ alma mater, the University of Kansas, where he earned both a B.S. and M.S., and the University of Missouri where he earned a Ph.D, all in chemical engineering. He moved to Denver in 1969 to work for Marathon Oil at their research center located in Littleton, Colorado. Over the course of his career, John wrote and published many papers, was a distinguished speaker in South America for the Society of Petroleum Engineers, and was the inventor on several technological patents.
John married Annette Bennington, his high school sweetheart, on January 27, 1962. Their eldest son Matthew, a corporate attorney in Denver, was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on July 29, 1964. Their youngest son Ben, the CEO of UltraCare, a supplier of medical workers to long term facilities in Tennessee, was born on November 25, 1969.
John had his first cardiac bypass surgery when he was 55 and five other cardiac procedures after that. In 2014 he experienced the early stages of chronic kidney disease. He had a pacemaker implanted in 2016. In 2019, John and Annette moved from Denver to San Diego.
John was treated for chronic kidney disease at the UCSD Chronic Kidney Disease clinic in San Diego. Even though John never had COVID, he was a victim of it. He quit playing golf when COVID hit and stayed at home in isolation, where his health went progressively downhill.
Just one month to the day before John’s death, he and Annette moved to independent living at White Sands, 7450 Olivetas Avenue, La Jolla, CA 92037. Because of her ongoing neuropathy from ovarian cancer treatment, Annette will continue to live at White Sands with John’s beloved kitties, Hoffie and Liebee.
John leaves behind Annette, his wife of 58 years; Matt and Ben, his sons; their wives, Colleen O’Connor and Jan McElhiney; and three grandchildren that he adored: Maxwell Jee Min McElhiney, 19, Mackenzie Shea McElhiney, 16, and Keira Brynn McElhiney, 12; and a niece, Amanda Nolan.
John had a long, fulfilling life and his future with dialysis looked daunting. He died only hours after a surgical procedure to insert a fistula in his arm to allow dialysis to begin. After the procedure, while in the recovery room, in typical fashion and despite the issues he faced, John joked to his nurse and wife about having a sore arm and needing to be tethered to a machine for the rest of his life. While standing up to leave the recovery room after his procedure, John experienced cardiac arrest, and could not be revived.
John escaped one of his worse fears (dialysis and all that comes with it) and he is now free and in a better place, but his family is heartbroken by their loss. John will be remembered as a good natured and devoted husband, father, grandfather, and friend to so many different people who were blessed to have known him throughout his life.
John’s family hopes to have a celebration of life for family and friends in Denver when public health precautions permit such an event to be held at some point in the future. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in John’s memory to the American Heart Association or the American Kidney Association.