J. William McCray “Bill”, 87, of Elyria, died Monday, August 13, 2012, at Good Samaritan, Avon, after a lengthy illness. Bill was born to Carrie Marie (nee Cordray) and Page McCray on a farm in Pickaway County, May 26, 1925.
Bill served in the United States Navy Air Corp., flying Navy Bearcat and Hellcat fighters during WWII. After the war, he served in the U.S. Navy Reserves until 1965. He started his college education as a cadet pilot, studying at the University of North Carolina. Courtesy of the G.I. bill, Bill enrolled at Ohio State University and later transferred to Ohio Wesleyan University, where he was inducted as a member of Phi Beta Kappa and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree with majors in both math and political science. He went on to graduate from the University of Michigan Law School with a L.L.B. in 1950. Bill had a distinguished career in law, which not only included 40+ years of private practice, but a stint as an Assistant Lorain County Prosecutor and acting Municipal Court judge and was admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court. His deep commitment to the health and well being of Elyria and Lorain County and its citizens, led him to run for Congress in both 1958 and 1960. His defeats did not discourage him as he focused his energies on that of being a behind-the-scenes political player backing many successful politicians. He became a leading force in the following organizations: Executive Board Member of Disabled American Veterans; AmVets; American Legion; G.I. Forum (aiding Spanish speaking veterans); Board Member of the Lorain County Soldiers and Sailors Relief Board; Member of the American, Ohio, Cleveland and Lorain County Bar Associations; Board Member County Chapter March of Dimes & American Cancer Society; Member of National Association of Prosecuting Attorneys; Past President, Alumni Chapters of Ohio Wesleyan & University of Michigan; Elks Club; President, Elyria City Club; Kiwanis Club; Secretary, Lorain County Regional Planning Commission; Elyria City Planning Commissions. He practiced before many federal agencies such as the N.L.R.B., S.E.C, and F.C.C. Additionally, his passion for flying led to his instrumental role in the formation of the Lorain County Regional Airport. He worked tirelessly to lay the groundwork and bring vital air service to Lorain County.
In his “retirement”, Bill worked for the Veteran’s Administration, ensuring that Veterans were cared for and had a voice before county, state and federal legislatures. All of this, while he kept his hand in his former law practice and running two business ventures: Parson’s Insurance Agency and Twin Lake Homes, Ltd. In his free time, he loved to fly, travel, read and keep up with current events. He also loved being with his family, whether it was teaching his son to sail and scuba dive, his daughters to camp and horseback ride and instill a love of animals in all of them. His greatest joy was spending time with his beloved wife, Peggy. As long as they were together, it didn’t matter if it was golfing, playing bridge, or just sitting quietly in her presence, reading one of his many books or newspapers. Bill was an amazing lawyer, businessman, volunteer, husband, father and grandfather. His unfaltering loyalty and love was felt by many and he had a profoundly positive effect on everyone and everything he touched.
Surviving are his beloved wife of 61 years, Peggy (Bjork); two daughters, Nanci (Jack) Koepke of Dayton, Kim (Jim) LeMaster of Avon; one daughter-in-law, Diane McCray; four grandchildren, Erin Koepke, Lauren Koepke, Hanna LeMaster, and Luke LeMaster; two cherished nieces who were like daughters, Teri Meloy and Sharon Stone; one sister, Donna Strait; one sister-in-law, Helen Ruth McCray and many other nieces and nephews.
Bill was preceded in death by his son, Greg (Diane) McCray; his parents Carrie Marie (Cordray) and Page McCray; his brother, Charles (Helen Ruth) McCray; and one sister, Jean (Fred) Meloy.
Friends will be received Saturday, August 18, 2012, from 1 until 3 P.M., at the Laubenthal-Mercado Funeral Home and Cremation Service, 38475 Chestnut Ridge Road (at State Rt. 57), Elyria, (440) 322-4626, followed by a memorial service at 3 P.M., in the funeral home. The Reverend Jack Koepke will be the officiant. Burial will be private.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Alzheimer’s Association, Cleveland Area Chapter, P.O. Box 74924, Cleveland, OH 44194-4924 or Hospice of Western Reserve, 300 E. 185th St., Cleveland OH 44119.
Online condolences may be expressed at www.laubenthalmercado.com.