In Memory of



Obituary for Elton Renfroe

Elton Renfroe passed away peacefully at home on Thursday, November 12 at the age of 92, surrounded by his loved ones. Elton is remembered for his loving kindness, quick wit, brilliant memory and curious nature. His dedication to storytelling and the traditions of oral history were rooted in his West Texas upbringing. His love of opera and books made him an outlier in tiny Abernathy, so he made his way to the University of Texas, entering its famed Plan II (liberal arts) program at age 16. After graduation, he served in the Army as a staff psychologist at Fitzsimmons Hospital during the Korean War, then fulfilled his dream of moving to New York City. It was there that he met his future wife, Barbara, and they began their adventure on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Their mutual passion for the arts fueled a 62-year marriage: a lesson in love, devotion and laughter. After their children, Molly and Owen, were born, they left their beloved Manhattan for suburban Englewood, NJ. Elton was a devoted and enthusiastic father. He worked at Stevens Institute of Technology for 30 years, rising from Presidential speechwriter to Vice President of Advancement. During these years, he began studying voice and distinguished himself as a lyric baritone at Amato Opera Company in lower Manhattan. As collaborators, Elton and Barbara, a pianist, presented several candlelight concerts on the Stevens campus. Committed to civic responsibility, Renfroe served on the Community Chest and sat on the vestry of St. Paul's Church, both in Englewood. He was also the President of the Philanthropic Planning Group of Greater NY for a short time. He was inspired by Native American culture, Buddhist teachings and made several trips to Bali, Indonesia in later years. In 1996, he retired to the Hudson Valley where he began writing a column for The Millbrook Roundtable. This work was the basis of his first book, "The Genuine Article," a collection of essays and diversions. He joined the talented group of artists that comprises the Taconic Writers Group and they inspired him to write and publish the novel, "The Salvation of Holytithe Tech," a satire on academic life. The Renfroe and Katz families wish to extend a special thanks to Dr. Amelia Martinko, as well as his other extraordinary doctors and friends, Drs. Nathanson, Parajon, Buffa, Solliday, Schaefer, Yousuf and Jayesh Modi. Our profound gratitude also goes to his remarkable caregivers Nicola Rivera, Maxine Gordon and Crystal Jones Royal who saw him through his last days with dignity, compassion and humor. Elton is survived by his wife Barbara, children and spouses, Molly and Dan Katz, Owen and Lynn (Noto) Renfroe and grandchildren Charlotte, Elizabeth, Oliver, Mabel and Lucy. Those who wish to make donations in his name can do so to Literacy Connections at 504 Haight Ave., Poughkeepsie, NY 12603. Arrangements are under the direction of the WM. G. Miller & Son FH, Inc. If you wish to send an online condolence please visit our website at