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Obituary: Elroy Coleman Avery

Roy Avery stretched his love of people and labor out for 94 years. He died in his sleep on March 19, 2009 at an assisted living home.

He was born in Oklahoma in 1914 to Harry Coleman and Lura Whittlesy Riddle Avery. They soon moved to Lorain, Ohio, where Roy grew up and worked in the steel mills in order to attend Oberlin College. He finished his undergraduate study at MIT in chemical engineering.

He began his professional career during World War II at Dupont in Wilmington, Del., where he met Ethelfrida Greene. They married in 1944 and the marriage lasted until her death in 1999. They had three children: Sally, who married Paul Bermanzohn; Sam, who married Bonnie Hattis Avery; and Torula, who married Chris Chanlett. Roy is also survived by seven grandchildren: Leola Bermanzohn, Sandy Bermanzohn, Jacob Avery, Lauren Avery, Ben Avery, Emma Chanlett-Avery, and Sadie Chanlett-Avery.

Roy earned his master’s degree in engineering from the University of Delaware. He worked most of his life for the American Chemical Society in public relations, eventually leading their department.

Roy and Elfie moved to Mount Vernon, in 1967 where they became mainstays of the Mt. Vernon Yacht Club and neighborhood. They enjoyed a small sailboat as he served as commodore and she edited "The Beacon" newsletter. They were active gardeners and frequent hosts. He played the flute regularly at neighborhood recitals with Pam Beggan and at Pohick Church.

Five years after Elfie passed, Roy at 89 remarried with the recently widowed Norma Tomley, who was already the senior member of the yacht club at 83. They delighted in each other’s company for five years and maintained their independent living until last November.

Roy Avery never met a stranger and could establish rapport with anyone available. He was always the life of the party and included everyone he could engage with his quick and gentle wit. He loved problem solving on mathematical and practical levels, taking great satisfaction in caring for his lawn and gardens. In earlier times he used his engineering skills to renovate two of his homes. He finished raking the leaves in November. Up to his last days, he told everyone around him "I am a happy man."