Distinguished alumnus Rev. John G. Truitt Jr. '53 passes away
One of Elon's most loyal and involved graduates died January 4 after a lengthy illness. Read this note for details about his lifetime of service to Elon.
The Rev. John G. Truitt Jr., a 1953 Elon graduate whose family involvement with the university dates back to the early 1900s, died Jan. 4 at the age of 81.
A service of celebration will be held at Elon Community Church where he was a member on Monday, Jan. 6, at 2 p.m. A private burial with full military honors will be held in the chapel on Chaplain’s Hill at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C. The family will be at Rich & Thompson Mortuary in Burlington on Sunday from 4 to 6 p.m. Memorials may be made to the Truitt-Hagan Endowed Scholarship, Elon University, Campus Box 2500, Elon NC, 27244 or to the Elon Community Church, Post Office Box 625, Elon NC, 27244.
Truitt was one of Elon's greatest ambassadors for more than six decades. He and his wife, Dolores Hagen Truitt '53, met as students on Elon's campus during cheerleading tryouts. The two have been inseparable ever since, rooting for their alma mater at home games and participating in all aspects of university life. The Truitts live next to campus and have forged strong relationships with hundreds of students, faculty and staff throughout the years.
"John Truitt was among our most fiercely loyal and enthusiastic alumni," said Leo M. Lambert, Elon University president. "He was wonderful minister and a genuinely kind man. It was an honor to present the Elon Medallion to John and Dolores in 2012. His frequent personal presence on campus will be deeply missed."
As an Elon student, John Truitt studied philosophy and religion and was active in student government and sang in the college choir. In attending Elon, John continued a long family tradition that included his mother, Adelia Rebecca Jones Truitt, a 1926 Elon graduate, and his father, the Rev. Dr. John G. Truitt, a 1916 Elon alumnus who served as superintendent of The Christian Orphanage adjacent to the college, which later became Elon Homes for Children.
After graduating from Elon, John Truitt attended Princeton Theological Seminary for one year and married Dolores in 1954 before receiving a degree from Union Theological Seminary in New York and serving as pastor of churches in Burlington, N.C., Brookside, N.J., and Chesapeake, Va. He soon began a 26-year career as a chaplain in the United States Air Force in 1961, including service in Vietnam during the Tet Offensive, as well as serving as director of budget and logistics in the Chief of Chaplain’s Office in Washington, D.C., training chaplains to minister in combat zones.
During his duty he received the Legion of Merit, the Air Force Commendation Medal with two oak leaf clusters the Bronze Star, the Meritorious Service Medal and the Vietnam Gallentry Cross. Col. Truitt also received The Choung My Medal, a unique Vietnamese medal from the president of South Vietnam for humanitarian acts. He was one of only two U.S. chaplains to ever receive that medal. Twice he was named Young Chaplain of the year by his commands – in 1968 by the 7th Air Force in Tuy Hoa, Vietnam, and by the Tactical Air Command in Homestead, Fla.
In addition to receiving the Elon Medallion from President Lambert in 2012, Truitt was awarded the Elon Alumni Association’s Outstanding Service to Elon Award in 2007.
John and Dolores were members of the National Alumni Executive Board and co-presidents of the Golden Alumni Association, representing alumni who graduated at least 50 years ago. The Truitts are members of The Elon Society, the university’s premier annual giving group, and Order of the Oak, Elon’s planned giving recognition society. They established the Truitt-Hagan Endowed Scholarship to assist student-athletes and the Brock Darden Jones and Selma Gertrude Rawles Jones Endowed Scholarship to help make Elon more accessible to students with financial need.