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Elizabeth Smith McCreary

Mrs. Pierce N. McCreary (Elizabeth M. Smith) died peacefully on May 24, 2016, in Carlsbad, CA.


Born on February 7, 1927, in El Paso, TX, she was the daughter of the late Mr. and Mrs. Louis H. Smith (Elizabeth C. Marks), and the granddaughter of Mr. & Mrs. Samuel C. Marks (Annie J. Grogan).


Samuel Marks left Toronto, Canada, for the United States, seeking a warmer climate. He and his wife joined a few friends in 1870 to establish the Episcopal Church of St. Clement in the Village of Franklin, which formed the nucleus of the present-day city of El Paso, TX. The mission church was the first Protestant church at this time between Santa Fe, NM, and Brownsville, TX.


Raised in El Paso, Elizabeth, known as Betty, was an active parishioner at St. Clement’s Church. She was an accomplished tennis player, winning numerous state tournaments, and went on to become the South West Doubles champion in her youth.


She graduated from Austin High School and attended Texas State College for Women in Denton, TX, now called Texas Woman’s University, which her mother also attended. She was a journalism major, wrote for the school newspaper, and became proficient at writing freelance news articles.


Betty met her future husband, Pierce Newberry McCreary of Chicago and Lake Forest, IL, at a campus dance while he was stationed in Texas during World War II. Pierce was smitten by this southern belle and provided free tutoring for his superior officers in exchange for a “liberty pass” to court Betty. They were married on campus at the “Little Chapel in the Woods” on May 30, 1947, followed by a reception at the Onwentsia Club in Lake Forest.


After Pierce’s honorable discharge from the Army Air Force, they moved to New Haven, CT, where Pierce finished his degree at Yale. They then moved to Charlottesville, VA, where Pierce was an editor of the Law Review and earned his law degree at the University of Virginia. They were members of Farmington Country Club, and Betty became the Virginia state doubles champion in the early 1950s. Upon Pierce’s graduation from law school, they moved to Larchmont, NY, and Pierce began his legal career at Cravath, Swain & Moore, in New York City.


In Larchmont, Betty continued playing tennis on the club team at the Larchmont Yacht Club, and took up the sport of paddle tennis, going on to win many tournaments. She enjoyed taking part in the ladies’ sailing class and was chairman of the bridge committee, enjoying duplicate bridge. Also a member the New York Yacht Club, she joined her husband in many sailing regattas and cruising around the world.


An active parishioner of St. John’s Episcopal Church, she was a member of the Altar Guild and Saint Margaret’s Guild. Her husband was a direct descendant of Saint Margaret, Scotland’s only royal saint. She was active in the Women’s Club of Larchmont, and was treasurer of the Larchmont Public Library for many years. Following the legacy of her mother-in-law Mrs. Robert Newberry McCreary (Katharine Louis Pierce), who was president of the Chicago Junior League from 1917 to 1918, Betty became an active member of the Larchmont Junior League. She was instrumental in starting the Youth Employment Service, also known as Y.E.S., in 1963. This is believed to be the first organization of its kind in the country; the program was later launched in many locations around the United States.


After her three children were off to college, Betty embarked on a distinguished 30-year career at H & R Block. She taught the H & R Block income tax course to professionals while working as a tax preparer with a loyal following of numerous clients.

Betty relocated to a retirement community in Carlsbad, CA, in 2006. She brushed up her journalism skills and wrote a monthly column for the community newspaper, and was an active congregant of the Holy Cross Episcopal Church. She continued playing tennis, and took part in numerous activities, including acting in theatrical productions. She made many new friends thanks to her lively personality.


Betty is survived by her daughter and son-in-law, Mr. and Mrs. Joel E. Strauch (Catherine M. McCreary) of Charlottesville, VA; sons Pierce N. McCreary Jr. of Redding, CT, and James B. McCreary of Stratford, CT; three grandchildren, Jacqueline, Jan, and Pierce James; and her twin sister, Lou Yergat. She was predeceased in 2000 by Pierce, her husband of 53 years. A private memorial service was held in June at St. John’s Episcopal Church, Larchmont.

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