Charles McElyea has worked and lived in Lake of the Ozarks for almost 50 years, and he believes his relationship with the ever-growing community has been mutually beneficial.
“[The firm has] participated in civic organizations, participated in serving on boards, we’ve taught seminars and classes at our local career and technical school through the years. We’ve just tried to give back to the community. The community has been good to us, and we’ve tried to support it,” McElyea said.
McElyea graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration and marketing from the University of Missouri in 1968. Three years later, he earned his law degree from the University of Missouri School of Law. Also that year, he was discharged from the U.S. Army as a first lieutenant after spending four years enrolled in ROTC and completing two mandatory years of the program.
“I always figured at some point I would be going to Vietnam, I didn’t know I’d get the educational delay,” he said. “So it was always out there. It was in my mind that I was going to Vietnam at some point.”
But McElyea wasn’t sent to Vietnam, and instead he joined the Phillips and Parrish law firm in November 1971. He has practiced law in the Lake of the Ozarks area ever since.
“Charles McElyea has distinguished himself in the many capacities in which he has served his law firm and the Camdenton and Lake of the Ozarks communities,” one of his nominators wrote. “He has provided strong leadership within and outside the field of law.”
By 1976 McElyea had become the senior partner after both of the founding partners left the firm. He expanded the firm by gradually adding other lawyers until he became the senior member of the five-member firm now known as Phillips, McElyea, Carpenter & Welch.
Now, only McElyea and Dave Welch remain at the firm.
“We are starting to wind down our practice,” McElyea said. “I don’t know that we’ve definitely decided on closing the door, but maybe limiting ourselves to an office practice or not go to court as much or at all.”
McElyea’s practice areas include real estate, municipal and county government issues, estate planning and probate administration, domestic relations, business organizations, condominium and homeowner associations, and personal injury.
He also is involved in alternative dispute resolution as a mediator and an arbitrator, and he has been a mediator and arbitrator for the Missouri Bar Fee Dispute Committee since the program began. He is a member of the board of directors of the Lake Regional Health System and is the vice president of the Lake Regional Medical Group.
McElyea and his wife of 48 years are the parents of two grown sons and four grandchildren in their teens.
“It’s been a satisfying career,” he said. “I’ve been doing this for 47-and-a-half years and still enjoy it — but I also am looking forward to cutting back and doing other things, like traveling a little more while my wife and I have good health.”