'Dad was quiet strength'

Hancock businessman McCray was 'always there' for his family

Hancock businessman McCray was 'always there' for his family

May 28, 2006|by MARLO BARNHART

Editor's note: Each Sunday, The Herald-Mail will run "A Life Remembered." The story takes a look back - through the eyes of family, friends, co-workers and others - at a member of the community who died recently. Today's "A Life Remembered" is about Mark C. McCray, who died May 18 at the age of 90. His obituary appeared in the May 20 edition of The Herald-Mail.

Looking back on it now, Marian McCray said it's hard to believe her 65 years as the wife of Mark McCray came about because he offered to drive her home one day from her job at a dime store in Hancock.

"He was with one of my girlfriends, but they were just friends," Marian said.

Marian, 17, and Mark - eight years her senior - began dating and six months later, they were married.

A couple in both their personal and professional lives, the McCrays produced two daughters during their marriage.


Mark McCray died May 18 at the age of 90 at Williamsport Nursing Home.

Little did the McCrays know when they married in September 1941 that their world and "the" world would be turned upside down three months later, when Pearl Harbor was attacked.

"Mark went into the service right away," Marian said. He served two years, but never saw combat.

Once Mark completed his U.S. Army tour, he came back and went into the family business - McCray's Building and Supply in nearby Warfordsburg, Pa.

"Mark did all the wiring work," Marian said. Then in 1958, Mark and Marian opened McCray's Electrical Service in Hancock.

Marian managed the store, which also carried a line of hardware and paint.

The couple's oldest daughter, Jenny McCray Caldwell, was 9 years old and in school when the McCrays opened the store. But Denise McCray Apple - born in 1955 - was a toddler, so she often accompanied her mother to work.

"I remember playing in the back of the store," Denise said. There was a cot for her to nap on and a television to keep her entertained.

Her memories also were of the fun she had playing with the hardware and wires and such.

"I was his little buddy - he called me Pete," Denise said. She remembers riding on a tractor with her father and going to Hagerstown with him.

"He would always buy me a hot chocolate when we went to town," Denise said.

In the early 1960s, the McCrays traded in their original store building for a new one across the street, complete with living quarters above the store.

During those years of running the business and raising a family, Mark served one term on the Hancock Town Council from 1977 to 1981.

"One day, Dave Sowers, who was mayor then, got Mark by the hand and told him to sign up to run for council," Marian said.

Mark signed up, but didn't expect anything to come of it. She said Mark couldn't have been more surprised when he got a call after the election and learned that he had won.

That brief stint was his only dabbling in politics, Marian said. The business and his family always were most important to Mark.

"I always enjoyed working at the store," Marian said. But after 30 years, Mark retired at the age of 72.

Since the living quarters went with the business, the McCrays moved to a home on Funk Avenue. But there was no rocking on the front porch for this couple.

"We took a lot of trips," Marian said. Some of those were to Hawaii and Virginia Beach, as well as one Caribbean cruise.

They also volunteered their time at many Hancock Lions and Lionesses fundraisers, making funnel cakes, for the most part.

Both Denise and Jenny said their father as well as their mother were role models for them as they grew up in Hancock.

"Dad was quiet strength," Denise said.

Jenny recalled her mother and father never missed any of her school activities.

"He was always there for us," she said.

And he was always there for Jenny's two children who called him "Mamps" from the time they were too young to pronounce Gramps.

In his later years, Mark used to enjoy taking rides with Jenny, pointing out places where he used to live, and even houses that he had wired when he was working.

A broken hip three years ago slowed Mark down, Marian said.

"He especially hated giving up golf," she said.

Denise said her father would watch golf on television whenever he could.

"I'd ask him what he was doing, and he would say he was 'playing' golf,'" she said.

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