James Elliott Messer, 74, passed away peacefully December 8, 2012 after a short illness.
He was born on May 22, 1938, in Tallahassee, Florida. Elliott was the son of James Messer, Jr. and Reba Dunwody Messer. He attended Leon High School and graduated from Stanton Military Academy in Virginia. He graduated from Duke University in 1960 where he was President of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity. After graduation, he was commissioned as an Ensign in the United States Navy and married the love of his life, Elizabeth Ann Sutton of Greensboro, North Carolina.
While serving as a Lieutenant onboard the USS BEXAR, Elliott circled the globe twice and participated in operations off of the coast of Vietnam and on the Congo River with the United Nations peacekeeping forces during the Congolese Rebellion of 1960.
After his service with the Navy, Elliott entered law school at the University of Florida. While there he was Editor-in-Chief of the Law Review and a member of Phi Kappa Phi, Phi Delta Phi, Blue Key and Order of the Coif. He graduated from Florida in 1964 with honors. He began his law practice in Miami, Florida, joining the firm of Merschon, Sawyer, Johnston, Dunwody and Cole where he practiced law with his two uncles, Atwood and Elliott Dunwody. Elliott returned to Tallahassee in 1970 and with Murray Wadsworth and Ford Thompson founded the law firm that is known today as Messer, Caparello and Self where he continued an active practice.
In addition to his law practice, Elliott was active in civic affairs. He served as a member of the Governor's Education Commission, the Leon County Environmental Commission and the Governor's Property Rights Study Commission. He was the Chairman of the Charter Committee for Consolidated Government, served on the Florida Constitutional Revision Commission and was a Delegate to the Federal Judicial Conference for both the 5th and 11th Circuits. He was Chairman of the Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce for two terms serving from 1976-1978. As Chairman he led the effort to build the Leon County Civic Center and establish Innovation Park. In recognition of his many achievements, Elliott received the Greater Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce 2011 Godfrey Smith Past Chairman's Award.
Elliott loved fishing, hunting and was an avid storyteller. He delighted in relating tales about his travels around the world as well as entertaining children at St. Teresa Beach, Florida with his renditions of "Orgly", "The Three Boy Scouts" and "The Whiney Witch." His rich baritone voice was well suited for both front porch stories and courtroom closing arguments.
Elliott was preceded in death by his parents, James Messer, Jr. and Reba Dunwody Messer and his wife, Elizabeth Ann Sutton Messer.
He is survived by his son, James Elliott Messer, Jr. (Laurye); daughter, Emily Messer Ahlum (Greg); and son, William Atwood Messer; and sisters, Reba Messer Gates (Carlton) and Harriet Messer Goldsmith (Andy). He is also survived by his grandchildren, James Elliott Messer III, Sarah Messer McClellan (Ross), Elizabeth Louise Messer, Stuart Charles Ahlum, William Sutton Ahlum, Marcy Dee Messer, John William Messer and Emily Landis Messer.
Graveside services will be held at 10:00 am, Monday, December 10, 2012 at Roselawn Cemetery on Piedmont Drive. Visitation will be at the home of Jim and Laurye Messer immediately following the service at 6960 Standing Pines Lane. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare Foundation for the TMH Cancer Center at 1300 Miccosukee Road, Tallahassee, Florida 32308.