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.