Elizabeth McClary

Tuesday, February 5, 2013
Elizabeth McClary

Elizabeth McClary of Jackson, a longtime civic leader and humanitarian-award winner, died Sunday, Feb. 3, 2013, after a brief illness, surrounded by her family. She was 97.

Named Jackson's first "Leading Lady" in 1959 for her community leadership, she received the Cape County humanitarian award from the Heritage Foundation in 2010. In between she taught Sunday school at New McKendree United Methodist Church until the age of 94, and served as a room mother and band-mother leader for more than 20 years.

She was past president of P.E.O., a philanthropic and educational organization, and served as an officer and board member of many community service and political organizations. The mayor of Jackson named a day in her honor.

Born Elizabeth Gamel on Jan. 11, 1916, in Festus, Mo., to Mary and William Bertram Gamel, she was married 58 years to Edward E. McClary, who preceded her in death.

She managed district office for State Farm Insurance many years. She also was preceded in death by a sister, Evelyn Reddick, and a son, Robert Starr McClary II.

Four children survive: Dr. Lynn Hawkins of DeLand, Fla., Laura Avakian of Boston, Edward McClary of San Francisco and Jane Oakley of Bethesda, Md.; 19 grandchildren; and great-grandchildren.

A 1938 graduate of Southeast Missouri State University, she attended the University of Wisconsin graduate program in speech pathology before teaching English, speech, journalism and Latin at Festus and De Soto, Mo., high schools. She starred in numerous college and community theater presentations and was a frequent public speaker.

Her passions included traveling, including flying to Washington, D.C., this Christmas for a family reunion, her grandchildren, knitting, bridge and activities with her many, many friends.

Visitation will be from 4 to 7 p.m. Wednesday at Cracraft-Miller Funeral Home.

The funeral will be at 10 a.m. Thursday at New McKendree Methodist Church. Burial will be in the Gamel Family Cemetery in Festus.

The family requests that any memorial gifts in honor of Elizabeth McClary be directed to Missouri Sister Power Scholarship/Cottey College, with checks made out to P.E.O. Chapter DJ, Evelyn Coleman, treasurer, 631 Bainbridge Road, Jackson, MO 63755.

Online condolences may be made at www.cracraftmiller.com.