Orlando “Crane” Lorenzo McElroy—a loving father, grandfather and brother; devoted friend; and proud Mason—was born on January 28, 1950, in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He laid down his working tools for eternal rest on December 25, 2022.
Crane was the eldest of three children born to the late Thomas Harold and Delores Patton McElroy of Chattanooga, TN. He attended Chattanooga’s Howard High School, where classmates described him as a continuously giving person and unwavering friend. At a very early age, Crane developed a passion for music and, while at Howard, he took great pride in being the head drum major of Howard’s “Marching 100” marching band. After earning his high school diploma in 1967, Crane set his sights on attending Maryland State College, now known as the University of Maryland, Eastern Shore (UMES). He carried his love for music with him to Maryland State, where he pursued a bachelor’s degree in music education. Although skilled at playing many instruments, he set them all aside to become the drum major of the Maryland State marching band. Coincidentally, his love for music led him to meet the love of his life, Lucy “Cookie” Wright, who was a majorette in the band. Crane and Cookie not only loved traveling together on band trips, but the two also enjoyed taking trips to see Cookie’s parents on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. It was there where the couple eventually decided to settle down and raise a family.
After earning his bachelor’s degree in 1972, Crane and Cookie returned to Chattanooga where Crane became the band director at Howard High. He taught at his alma mater for several years and even took classes to continue his education toward a master’s degree in classical music. In 1979, after Crane and Cookie returned to Maryland, Crane switched careers and began working with the Maryland Division of Corrections in Baltimore, MD. Among many other duties, Crane was responsible for the supervision of more than 50 officers, as well as for the safety and security of the general population of inmates and the residential population in the area. After more than 20 years of service, Crane retired as a lieutenant and shift commander at the Eastern Pre-Release Unit in Queen Anne’s County.
Retirement, however, couldn’t keep him still. Crane stayed busy working different sales positions—as an account specialist for Schwan’s Family Foods; and sales associate positions at Bay Country Auto, and Sight and Sounds in Easton, MD; and Centreville Wireless in Centreville, MD. He also enjoyed filling his retirement days with visits from family, cooking on the grill and engaging friends in long conversations.
Crane had a passion for masonry and was a devoted member of the Thomas H. Kiah Lodge #101, where he served as Worshipful Master for several terms. A 32nd degree mason, Crane was always willing to help in any way he could by imparting Masonic knowledge, providing transportation for new Brothers to and from classes, and assisting the office of Grand Lecturer. Past Master McElroy’s presence will truly be missed by the members of Thomas H. Kiah and many other masons across the State.
Crane was preceded in death by his father and mother, Thomas Harold and Delores Patten McElroy; his wife of 49 years, Lucy Belle “Cookie” Wright McElroy; and a best friend, James “Sonny” Boaz.
Left to cherish his memory are his children—Tracy McElroy and daughter-in-law Debbie Paulus McElroy, of Blacksburg, VA; Niki McElroy Grant and son-in-law, Toren Grant, of Laurel, MD; and Tammy McElroy McNish and son-in-law, Kenrick McNish, of Minneapolis, MN; six grandchildren—Ashley, Meghan, Camryn and Vincent McElroy, and Avery and Davis Grant; two siblings—Carol J. “Jeanni” McElroy, of Chattanooga, TN; and Michael A. McElroy and partner, Arthur “Ajay” James, of Inglewood, CA; a nephew, Jere’l B. McElroy, of Atlanta, GA; a best friend, Sidney Edwards, of Chattanooga, TN; a host of cousins, relatives, and close friends; and a grand-pet, Ansley.
Viewings will take place at Bennie Smith Funeral Home (855 High St., Chestertown, MD 21620) on Friday, January 6, 2023, from 5-7 PM and Saturday, January 7, 2023, from 9-10:30 AM.
A public Masonic service will be held Saturday, January 7, 2023, at 10:30 AM at Bennie Smith Funeral Home (all are welcome to attend), immediately followed by a funeral service at 11 AM. For guests who are unable to attend in person, a livestream of the services will be viewable via the Bennie Smith Funeral Home website.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to:
The Lucy McElroy Scholarship Fund
Thomas H. Kiah #101 Masonic Lodge
2030 Pondtown Rd.
Chestertown, MD 21620