CENTRALIA — Martha Louise McCrary, 78 years old, of Centralia passed away peacefully just before eight o’clock on Friday evening, August 19, 2016, in Leawood, Kansas.
She was born on September 6, 1937 in Ashley, the daughter of Earl and Florence (Brown) Houser. Martha was born in Ashley, and lived as a young girl with her family in Salem, and then during the war in West Frankfort, Ill. She moved to Centralia when her family opened the first TV installation and repair business. Martha met her future husband while they were both attending Centralia Junior College. She married Avery T. (A.T.) McCrary on January 21, 1956 in Sesser, Ill. They were both teachers in Centralia and both received Bachelor degrees in Education from McKendree College.
Martha began her career teaching in the Centralia City Schools including Willow Grove and Bronson. Following an untimely death of her oldest brother, Martha and A.T. as a young couple, took much pride and joy in helping to raise their five nephews John, Bill, Ralph, Bob and Wayne. The stories and memories of these years provided a rich foundation of love and caring in the family. With many to feed, Martha became an excellent cook and could whip up any dish from scratch on the fly. Before Martha and A.T. added two children of their own, they spent time boating, playing softball, socializing, playing tennis, and golf. Later, camping and fishing at Carlyle Lake provided fun and great memories. Martha received her real estate license and was asked to teach the real estate and real estate brokers classes at Kaskaskia College. She taught these courses for nearly 20 years. She went back to school and received her Masters of Educational Administration from Eastern Illinois University. With the opening of the Centralia Correctional Center, she was hired to teach GED classes, and enjoyed this full-time position for 22 years until her retirement in 2002. During her employment she was appointed to lead the Audit Team, traveled the state to nearly all correctional facilities, and helped Centralia secure the first perfect audit score in the history of Illinois Correctional Audits. She was repeatedly awarded for her efforts at the Centralia Correctional Center including multiple Employee of the Month awards during her career. She would continue to share interesting, heart felt and life changing stories from her time as a GED teacher.
After the death of her husband, A.T., in late 2002, after 46 years of marriage, she turned to family, friends and travel to stay simulated, busy and inspired. She continued to share her knowledge and experience with her family and would impress to always compare yourself to the best. Martha used many sayings that were passed down through her family, one of her favorites was “your reach should always exceed your grasp.” She saw talent in every person, and great promise in her family, especially each of her grandchildren. She wanted them to work hard and always do their best. She never stopped giving her guidance and support. Being the youngest of six children, Martha had many, many nieces and nephews, she enjoyed spending time with her extended family. This large family provided great memories, happiness, and a sense of accomplishment in her life.
Martha’s numerous, wonderful friends provided her great joy over the years. She could often be found out dancing, singing karaoke, seeing movies, dining out, and playing mah jong with her fabulous friends that she cherished. She was an active member in the First United Presbyterian Church, she sang in the choir as a girl and later became an elder. She enjoyed being a longtime lady Elk, and later joined the Moose and spent time at the V.F.W. She was a member of the BPW and also served on the PAVE board. She was never one to sit still or “let the grass grow under her feet.”
Martha became mildly ill while traveling, and remained pain-free throughout her brief illness, as she succumbed to peritoneal cancer just 3 months after diagnosis. She passed peacefully in her sleep surrounded by children and several grandchildren in Leawood, Kansas at the home of her son, just as she wanted.
Survivors include daughter, Tolleyne Louise Ray- Centralia; son, Dr. Bradford S. McCrary and wife April of Leawood, Kan; grandchildren, Christopher Thomas Avery Ray of Centralia, and Lucy Baylor McCrary, Avery James McCrary, John Brody McCrary, Ainsley Ray McCrary all of Leawood; great-grandchildren, Michael and Tiger Ray; several nieces and nephews, including the five she helped raise, John D. Houser, William Houser, Ralph Houser, Robert Houser, and Wayne Houser.
Martha was preceded in death by her parents; husband Avery (A.T.) McCrary; and her five siblings, Waldo (John) Howard Houser, Wayner Cornell Houser, Cloy “Doe” E. Houser, Viola G. (Frederking) Davis, and Byan Lee Houser.
Funeral services will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday, August 27, 2016 at the First United Presbyterian Church in Centralia with Reverend Martin officiating. Interment will follow at Hillcrest Memorial Park.
Friends may call from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, August 26, 2016 at the First United Presbyterian Church.
Memorials may be made to Cancer Research Institute, or Martha’s other favorite charities including Wings of Hope, and The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
Online condolences and memories of Martha may be shared with the family at maczfuneralhomes.com and/or on the funeral home’s Facebook page.