Hansen-Spear Funeral Home – Quincy, Illinois

Martha McCrory

Martha McCrory, age 98, of Quincy, died at 12:08 p.m. on Saturday, February 16, 2019 in St. Vincent’s Home. She truly lived a wonderful life!

Martha was born August 15, 1920, the daughter of Florence Bastert and Joseph Willis McCrory. She graduated from Quincy Senior High School in 1937 and the University of Michigan in 1941, where she was a member of Pi Beta Phi social sorority, Sigma Alpha Lota and Pi Kappa Lambda.

Her musical career, which began with piano lessons at six, blossomed at age eight when she was introduced by Paul Morrison to a half size cello. High School summers were spent at the National Music Camp in Interlochen, Michigan. College summers were spent at Tanglewood Music Festival in Massachusetts, Academy of the West in Santa Barbara and Mills College in Oakland, California.

In 1940, she auditioned for Leopold Stokowski, conductor and organizer of the All-American Youth Orchestra, which was sponsored by the State Department. Martha was chosen from among 40,000 applicants from across the country. The orchestra performed in major venues on the East coast followed by a magnificent tour of South America, including concerts from Barbados to Buenos Aires.

Following graduation from Michigan she was accepted to Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York. There she studied with Luigi Silva, played in the Rochester Philharmonic, and taught cello in the Eastman Preparatory Department. She earned a Master’s Degree, the Performer’s Certificate and the Artist’s Diploma. Additional studies followed at the University of London. Immediately afterward, Martha spent five years with the San Antonio Symphony and a faculty position at Trinity College.

Upon the death of her father, Martha moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma to be with her mother. There she became a stock broker and played in the Tulsa Philharmonic. When its conductor, Julius Hegyi, was hired by the Chattanooga Symphony, he offered Martha a job as cellist and orchestra manager. She joined the faculties of both the University of Tennessee and Cadek Conservatory of Music.

In 1957, she was tagged by the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee to develop a summer music program. Martha and her mother moved to Sewanee where she taught at the University and directed the Sewanee Summer Music Center. Her worldwide contacts and numerous experiences were invaluable in building a world class music program. She was praised for her talent, commitment, and drive which enabled her to influence thousands of young musicians. In 1997, Music Educators’ Journal listed the Sewanee Summer Music Center among the top three music maps in the country. “Miss Mac” retired in 1998 and was presented with an honorary doctorate from the University of the South in appreciation for 42 years of outstanding service.

As a professional cellist, Martha played under the Leonard Bernstein, Leopold Stokowski, Serge Koussevitzky and Sir Thomas Beecham. In Tennessee, she played with numerous regional chamber groups and orchestras, including the Nashville, Chattanooga, Cookeville and Knoxville Symphonies.

As a staff cellist, Martha spent many years working in Nashville country music recording studios, alongside such notables as Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn, Minnie Pearl, Chet Atkins, Bob Dylan, Tennessee Ernie Ford, Jim Nabors, and others.

Martha’s dedication to summer music programs continues. In 1997, she founded the Martha McCrory Foundation to encourage the study of music among young students. She often stated and firmly believed, “Living, working, and making music with others who share similar interest while under the tutelage of superior artists is a life changing experience.”

In 2006, she was the lead donor in the building of the Martha McCrory Hall for the Performing Arts on the campus of Saint Andrew’s-Sewanee school.

She was honored with numerous citations over the years. She received the Governor of Tennessee’s Award for Outstanding Achievement and was named a Governor’s Outstanding Tennessean. She was appointed to the advisory panel for music by the Tennessee Arts Commission and was honored with the Lorin Hollander Award for outstanding music leadership. She also received an award from the University of Cordoba in Argentina.

She had a passion for adventure and traveled the world enthusiastically and extensively.

Surviving family include her beloved nieces, Martha Didriksen, Mary Hutmacher, and Cheryl Hulsen (Mike), many great nieces and great nephews, and a special caregiver, Victoria Nokes.

She was preceded in death by her parents, her sister Mary McCrory, her brother-in-law Charles Heidbreder, her nephew Dr. Richard Heidbreder, Martha’s husband and daughter John Didriksen and Cory Didriksen-Lovelace, and Mary’s husband and son Matthew Hutmacher, Sr. and Matthew Hutmacher, Jr.

The family would like to thank the staff and friends at St. Vincent’s Home for the loving and competent care Martha received.

Memorials may be made to the Quincy Senior High Music Department, Quincy Public School Foundation The Martha McCrory Circle for Music, Sewanee Summer Music Center, Blessing Hospital Hospice and Palliative Care, or St. Vincent’s Home.


Memorial Service: 10:30 a.m., Saturday, April 6, 2019 at First Union Congregational Church with Rev. Josh Vahle officiating.

Visitation: 9:30-10:30 a.m. Saturday, April 6, 2019 at First Union Congregational Church.


Hansen-Spear Funeral Directors are in charge of arrangements.

  1. Martha, Was a musical giant that left an eternal gift of music to the state of Tennessee. Her influence has gone way beyond our state boundaries of lasting import. Swannee Music Camp was immortalized with her leadership and support that she had contributed to the Arts. She will be long remembered.

  2. What a privilege to grow up in Sewanee and know Martha McCory. This wonderful and talented lady inspired, led, and encouraged all to love music. Often, I would see her drive in from a “gig” in Nashville and then perform classical cello here on the Mountain! Her work ethic was formidable. She was truly inspirational and enriched our lives here. Thank you, Martha. My condolences to all her family.

  3. I am so thankful…to have been part of Martha’s life…
    Our rides with Cay Barnum and chicken dinners at the cabin…the many stories Martha shared with us….
    Heaven has another angel…until we meet again..
    Your friendship is priceless!!!
    Catherine Morrison Wright
    Sending hugs and prayers to your wonderful nieces…xoxo

  4. Ms. Martha was very special to me. She won my heart and became a Grandmother I never had.
    I was totally got the first time she said, “I love you.” We had some very good laughs and she had a smile that made the room shine. I miss you

  5. I was probably the final conductor that Martha played under, here at the Bryan Symphony in Cookeville, TN. She continued to perform for a year or two after my arrival in 2003. A knowing and approving glance from Martha the back of the cello section (populated by professionals from Nashville, Chattanooga, Knoxville, etc…) could make my day! She donated her paychecks back to the symphony. I was happy to see her again after her retirement, when I returned to Sewanee to judge a concerto competition. Witty and wise as ever. How lucky we all are to be the beneficiaries of her love for music and instigating things!

  6. I’m grateful that Martha McCrory took a chance on hiring me to teach at Sewanee Summer Music Center many years ago. I was given many assignments that I wasn’t sure I was ready to do, but managed to live through. She definitely had a major impact on my life and career. I’ll be reflecting about some of those times, and thinking about the scores of wonderful people whom I met due to her. She helped educate an unimaginable number of musicians. Martha will be missed.

  7. Her enthusiasm, her joy in music was infectious. I remember so well being a student in her class (A History of Western Music) at Sewanee, her own musical performances, the warmth of her friendship. Knowing Martha was such a privilege, a joy! I remain a devoted supporter of her work the SSMF.

  8. What a joy! What a privilege to have known Martha McCrory! As a student in her class at Sewanee (“A History of Western Music”), I was delighted by her infectious love of music and her vast knowledge and experience. Later, as a friend, I treasured our visits. To this day I remain grateful to Martha and a devoted supporter of the Festival she founded and nurtured to a world- class event.

  9. To be shepherded with such love and care through the formative years of music-making, an unforgettable experience for all of us who had the privilege of discovering our life’s purpose at Sewanee!

  10. My most creative and challenging Summers were spent at Sewanee. Thank you for your commitment and support. My love goes to your family. What an incredible legacy you have left! You remain an inspiration. Love, Anastasia Barzee

  11. Martha McCrory set the standard, and I am rigorously, enthusiastically, and joyfully working to reach it! She literally set my life in the right direction. Thank you Ms. McCrory!!!

  12. Martha…you influenced me more than you knew. I adored you and the SSMC experience. You were tough but loving, with those twinkling eyes and such energy. Thank you for giving me early wonderful music experiences

  13. Martha was a giant in our field, and an inspiration to generations of young people, regardless of their chosen career path. I am a proud SSMC alumni, faculty member, and now, festival director. Thank you, Martha, for what you build, and for creating such an enduring legacy for all of us. No one can replace you, we can simply strive to carry forward what you have left.

  14. I had the privilege of studying with Martha at SSMC from 1968-1972. She was a great influence in my life and in the lives of many of my friends. I will never forget her, and the 6 “P’s”. What a beautiful legacy!

  15. I have many wonderful memories of Martha. I truly enjoyed working in the SSMC office helping her with gift records and collaborating in many ways with Priscilla Fort. We also enjoyed some wonderful holiday times in Spain for several years.

  16. Martha was my inspiration. When I met her in 1970 at the SSMF my first thought was—a woman can do this. It was my pleasure at her request to join the faculty many years later. She was an amazing woman, musician, and administrator. She was dearly missed at the SSMF after her retirement. I still meet former campers who say her “Six P’s of Sewanee” have served them well. What a beautiful life she lived.

  17. A legendary musician and teacher! I have fond memories of her from my summers at Sewanee. My condolences to Miss McCrory’s family.

  18. We will miss this great lady! Truly no one could match her energy and commitment. She contributed so much to her field–and to the many young people who were privileged to know her. Our deepest sympathy to her family, whom she greatly loved. Her passing is an enormous loss.

  19. I was a student at the Sewanee Summer Music Festival in 1971, ‘72 and ‘73. Martha McCrory made a huge impact on my life and lives of thousands of music students. She challenged us all to go beyond all expectations. I learned so much from her and counted her as a dear and close friend throughout the years. Rest In Peace, Martha McCrory.

  20. Martha, many of today’s professional musicians have wonderful of summers with you at Sewanee. You shaped many lives in their love of music. Thank you for your love and your work in music

  21. So very sad to learn of Martha McCorys passing. I knew Martha at the Swanee Summer Music Festival. My husband taught at the festival. She was a great lady. Diane McGuffey, Nashville, TN.

  22. Mary & Martha….my heart is with you both. Martha was such a special gift to so many. I have fabulous memories; trips to Chicago, working in the SSMC office, concerts, or simply chatting. The lives she touched, the lives she changed will be her legacy. A strong, trailblazing woman I am honoured to call my friend.

  23. A great lady who cared deeply about all her Music Center students and faculty who always encouraged all to strive for their best. I was privileged to have attended SSMC and later taught there for 15 years, experiences I treasure to this day. Thousands of students were inspired to achieve their utmost due to the old school but caring training given at the Sewanee Summer Music Center. Thank you Martha McCrory for all that you have given to so many. Rest In Peace.

  24. What a beautiful lady! I will miss your smile and our fun conversations! Heaven has gained an angel. Play your beautiful music with Mary. My deepest sympathy to Martha’s family…may God comfort you during this difficult time.

  25. Ms. Martha you are now with your Mother & Sister Mary. Enjoy them. I love you and miss you.
    My heart aches for the family.

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