John Fletcher Elder III – Lieuetnant Colonel, United States Army

Eulogy given by Don Ley at Fletch's Funeral: Saturday, June 2, 2001
Death: Monday, June 12, 2000

And when our work is done our course on earth is run may it be said well done be thou at peace.

These words from the Military Academy Alma Mater revered by Fletch and all West Pointers.

Fletch lived a good life on earth.

He grew up on a ranch near Cuero, Texas, where close to the land and in a loving family he developed those character traits that made him such a caring, loving person.

It was here that he first fell in love with Carlyn the love of his life. Together they always remained close to their rural Texas roots.

His military career began at West Point.

He was elected by his company, E-1, as their Honor Committee representative, a high honor and personal testimonial.
As his D-1 counterpart I served with him closely on the Cadet Honor Committee and I remember well how extraordinarily thoughtful and dedicated he was to fairness in the sober business of evaluating reported honor code violations.

Upon graduation he became a Signal Corps officer and like so many of us with a love of flying was recruited into Army Aviation which was supposed to be an additional career specialty.

But as happened to so many of his contemporaries his basic branch career was curtailed by repetitive aviation assignments to meet the requirements of Vietnam.

So he retired from the Army after 21 years of dedicated service in the highest traditions of West Point motto, Duty Honor, Country.

Pat and I were his very first clients as he transitioned to the real estate career phase of his life.

I wish I had time this morning to relay the details of the fascinating story. But he talked us into probably the best deal we ever made and provided tremendous service.

He was just starting out learning the business at the Gordon & Meekins Agency in Annandale.

He quickly became the top agent by far in that firm.

Soon afterward he struck out on his own setting up his own office in Oakton getting in on the ground floor with Remax.

He kept the same office over 20 years until the end.

The plaques and awards that now adorn the walls attest to his success through the years.

He worked well as his own boss.

There is a stereotype of a wheeler-dealer type real estate agent after the fast buck that once they have their commission check won't return phone calls. Some agents are flat incompetent in lookout for their client's welfare.

My wife can attest to this first hand. For many years she managed successively the offices of the two top title companies in McLean doing real estate settlements she dealt with all the top agents in the area and dozens of others in this highly competitive business.

Fletch was the antithesis of this stereotype. He was thoroughly competent, professional, and innovative. He sincerely cared about his clients and their families and went the extra mile on their behalf.

Wayne Schrottroff's company does maintenance and repair work on the properties which Fletch was involved with. The other day Wayne told me that over the years he has done work for many realtors but that Fletch did more for his clients by far than any other that he had known.

My youngest son worked part time for Fletch in his office for four years while he was in college. What he learned from Fletch about honesty and integrity in dealing with people was invaluable.

Fletch had increasing health problems in recent years and we know he realized that he could be in the twilight.

But he just kept going and never said anything.

Just a few days before his sudden death I happened to drop-in his office as I was going by.

We ended up visiting for half the afternoon. He was so looking forward to Carlyn's retirement from her long teaching career at the end of the school year and having her come into his office to work with him part time.

He said he would have to get her up to speed on the computer programs.

He was so proud of all she had achieved in teaching.

How bursting with pride he was after a few years ago when after years of tremendous effort she earned her PhD doctorate.

And how proud he was of their sons and their families.

He was always a very active member of his church.

He taught Sunday school for years.

He was a leader in his West Point Class activities.

He was involved in planning and coordinating the five-year reunions at West Point giving the eulogy at the memorial services honoring deceased classmates.

He was a fixture at local class parties, preparing and carving the steamship round of beef as no one else could.
Sstepping forward to assist the widows of classmates he became sort of our unofficial class chaplain. Presiding at the monthly class luncheon four days before his death, he told the humorous story of commuting to Fort Leavenworth with Darrold Erickson and Phil Stein in an old Volkswagen bug.

Now they are all gone.

Where have all the years gone?

Fletch's sudden passing should serve as a reminder to those of us who are classmates and contemporaries that we are indeed n the autumn of our years.

Our yesterdays outnumber our tomorrows.

How increasingly important then are our todays in the time we have left as our ranks are thinning.

Today we are sad as we celebrate Fletch's lifetime of service to his country, his family, his friends, his clients, his church, his community and all those who have depended upon him.

We console his loving family in their time of grief.

Fletch was one of the really good guys and we shall miss him a lot.

And as his course on earth has run it may truly be said of Fletch: Well done be thou at peace.

But it is in his dying that Fletch awakens eternal life where hopefully we may all see him again.


  • DATE OF BIRTH: 06/20/1934
  • DATE OF DEATH: 06/12/2000


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