Recent News & Blog

SEK Founder Merle Elliott Has Passed Away

November 7, 2020

With great respect and sadness, SEK announces the passing of one of the Firm’s founders, Merle S. Elliott. He passed on November 4, 2020, at 90 years old.

Smith Elliott Kearns & Company, LLC (rebranded as SEK, CPAs & Advisors in 2018) began its operations in March 1963 in Hagerstown when founding partners Merle S. Elliott and Earl J. Smith combined their practices.

Elliott served as Managing Member of the Firm from 1963-1989. In addition to building the Firm and serving the Tri-State business community, Elliott held leadership positions in the CPA profession on a national level. Throughout his career, Elliott did pro-bono work for many nonprofit organizations. His servant heart is evidenced by the impact he made on the community.

Elliott retired from the Firm in 1995 and continued his volunteerism, serving on many boards and receiving numerous awards for his efforts. Some of his life’s highlights include:

  • Served our country in the US Army during the Korean War. He was awarded the Defense Service Medal, United Nations Service Medal, and Korean Service Medal.
  • Named The Herald-Mail's Person of the Year in 2010, an annual award given to someone for their positive contributions to the Washington County community.
  • Longtime trustee of Hagerstown Community College, where he chaired their first campaign to raise money for student scholarships.
  • Played a key role in the Maryland General Assembly’s institution of a funding formula for community colleges in the early 1990s. Before the formula was instituted, state funding for community colleges was unpredictable.
  • Key member and past president of the Hagerstown-Washington County Industrial Foundation (CHIEF), which created multiple industrial parks and was instrumental in economic development for decades.
  • Mirrored an initiative in Cleveland that inspired the Greater Hagerstown Committee, which brought stakeholders and community leaders together to discuss important regional issues. He served as the first chairman of the committee.
  • Pushed for and helped form the Community Foundation of Washington County, which works to improve the lives of residents and future generations.
  • Founding member of Leadership Washington County and Leadership Maryland, programs that develop and inspire the leaders that are dedicated to serving and shaping their communities.

Due to COVID-19 precautions, a memorial service will be held at a later date.

Memorial donations may be made to the Community Foundation of Washington County MD Inc., 37 S. Potomac St., Hagerstown, MD 21740.

About SEK:
SEK, CPAs & Advisors has six regional offices in Hagerstown, Maryland; and Camp Hill, Carlisle, Chambersburg, Hanover, and York, Pennsylvania. The Firm was founded in 1963 and was recently named a “Top 200 Firm” by Inside Public Accounting. With 27 Members and a staff of 150, SEK services individuals as well as business clients in a variety of industries including construction, employee benefit plans, healthcare, local government, manufacturing, and nonprofit. The Firm offers financial statement preparation, auditing and assurance services, small business accounting, payroll services, QuickBooks® and Sage 50® training and consulting, tax return preparation and planning, estate planning and administration, business valuations, retirement plan design consulting, and third-party administration. For more information, visit


Kristina Tucker, Marketing Manager
Phone: 717-900-2021 | Email:

Contact Us to Schedule a Consultation