Remembering SMU Law Alumnus John McElhaney '58


SMU Dedman School of Law mourns the passing of our distinguished alumnus John H. McElhaney. Mr. McElhaney, a Dallas attorney for 58 years, died on January 27, 2018, at the age of 83. He earned his undergraduate degree from SMU in 1956 and his J.D. from SMU Dedman School of Law in 1958. During law school, John served as Managing Editor of the Southwestern Law Journal. For his legal accomplishments, John received the SMU Dedman School of Law Distinguished Alumni Award in 2007. Mr. McElhaney’s devotion to SMU continued throughout his life.

“Mr. McElhaney was truly one of our most distinguished alumni. He loved SMU and we are so grateful for all that he and his family did for the law school,” said Jennifer Collins, Dean of SMU Dedman School of Law. “He will be missed by all.” 

Mr. McElhaney practiced law in Dallas and quickly gained renown as a skilled trial lawyer and teacher. He frequently represented media clients including The Dallas Morning News and WFAA-TV. He also represented SMU for years. Mr. McElhaney taught several courses at SMU Dedman Law, and he trained generations of lawyers through numerous journal articles and law school textbooks he authored and the informal mentoring for which he was widely known. He was elected to the American College of Trial Lawyers, held leadership positions in the American Bar Association and the State Bar of Texas, and also served as a trustee of St. Mark's School of Texas. Mr. McElhaney observed the highest ethical standards of his profession and had an unparalleled work ethic.

Mr.McElhaney is survived by his wife, Jacquelyn McElhaney; son, Scott McElhaney; daughter Victoria Benedict; and four grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held in Perkins Chapel at SMU at 3:00 p.m. on Monday, February 19, 2018. A reception will follow. In lieu of flowers, the family welcomes memorials to the SMU Aquatic program or SMU Dedman School of Law scholarships, which may be sent to the SMU Office of Development, P.O. Box 750305, Dallas, TX 75275-0305.

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