September 30, 1921 - October 24, 2017
Sarah Graydon McCrory, 96, a long time Episcopal Church and civic leader, died on Tuesday, October 24, 2017 at her apartment in the Still Hopes Episcopal Retirement Community. A memorial service to celebrate her life will be held at Saint Martin’s in the Fields Episcopal Church, 5220 Clemson Avenue, Columbia, SC 29206 at 11:00 a.m. Saturday, October 28, 2017, The Reverend Mitchell Smith will officiate. After the service, the family will greet friends in the church parish hall. Inurnment will take place in the church cemetery at a later date. The daughter of Raven Simkins and Clinton Tompkins Graydon, Sarah was born in Columbia, graduate of The Old Columbia High School, Class of 1938, and graduated cum laude from Hollins College and from the University of South Carolina Law School, Class of 1944. She is survived by her five children: Clint (Sue Custance) of Athens, Georgia; Raven (Thorne Compton), Margie Hicks (Paul) and Alice of Columbia; and Elliott (Joanne) of Aurora, Illinois. She also leaves thirteen grandchildren and ten great-grandchildren. Also surviving, are her longtime companions and caregivers, Gladys Smith and Joe Anne Bryson who cared for both Mac and Sarah. Sarah was predeceased by her husband of 67 years Marvin L. McCrory, her sister, Madge Graydon Major, and her brother, Augustus T. “Gus” Graydon. Sarah Graydon McCrory’s commitment to and leadership in religious and civic affairs began in her youth in the 1930’s and continued for over seventy years, until her recent and final illness. Her belief in her personal responsibility for the world around her made her a tireless advocate for those on the margins of society as well as a religious leader, a passionate environmentalist and an avid gardener. A charter member of Saint Martin’s in the Fields Episcopal Church in Forest Acres, Sarah McCrory was among the first female vestry persons and senior wardens in the state of South Carolina. She served as chair or member of many groups in her parish: adult education (where she brought in numerous outside leaders and concentrated on current issues), long range planning, calling a rector (three times), social action, and communications. Sarah particularly enjoyed her church being paired with Chappelle Memorial AME church and her many decades as parish archivist. Sarah served at all levels of her beloved Episcopal church, on boards and committees in her areas of concern, including Christian education (particularly adults), race relations, community outreach, planning, history/archives, ecology, and law. She was deputy to the national governing body, the General Convention, eight times (1970-1999). At these conventions she served on the committees on canons, social concerns, and race relations. At the national level Sarah was on the boards of the Episcopal Radio and RV (now Episcopal Media Center), the General Theological Seminary, and the Kanuga Conference Center. At Kanuga she served on the program committee and as archivist for a number of years. A highlight of her national service was serving as chair of the committee on the consecration of bishops, which confirmed the controversial John-David Schofield as Bishop of San Joaquin. Sarah’s commitment to human rights and education were demonstrated by her leadership with Columbia Day Care. With this group she helped establish five centers in areas of need, two of which are still serving several hundred low income children. Practically single-handedly, Sarah established the first day care school at a HUD project in Columbia, Broad River Terrace. Sarah’s interest in the beauties of nature began in 1936 when she, along with Warren Irvin, spearheaded efforts for more city parks. In the mid 1940s she chaired the Smoke Control Committee, a first for clean air in Columbia. Her own gardens, which she planned and cared for with her friend and professional gardener Jennifer, were the most beautiful in Columbia, as she was quick to let you know. She played a part in the planning of the Botanical Garden at the Columbia Zoo. She also served on the boards of the Columbia Museum of Art (where she led groups in the Gibbes Planetarium), Columbia Cares, and Habitat for Humanity. Sarah was a longtime member of the Columbia Luncheon Club, which was established in the 1960’s in the midst of rising racial tensions as a safe place to bring white and black leaders together for lunch and frank conversation once a month. She served as president 2005-2006, and she edited a history of the club in 2006. In recent decades Sarah was honored for her tireless work to make the world a better place, receiving the Bishop’s Cross for her church work, the McKay Brabham Building Bridges Award from the Mediation Center in 2006, and Humanitarian of the Year, given by the Columbia Luncheon Club. For twenty years, after her five children were grown, Sarah practiced law, primarily probate work, with her brother Gus Graydon in the Columbia firm of Graydon and Suber. Sarah and Mac McCrory were avid Gamecocks, and she particularly loved basketball. During the 2016-2017 basketball season Sarah attended every USC men’s and women’s home game! The only thing that could keep Sarah away from St. Martins was a basketball game. In her later years, Sarah’s consuming hobby was writing. She self-published more than a dozen books on the history of her family and her church, including Clint and Raven: A Lawyer and his Lady (1980), “Alex” – Reminiscences: Columbia, South Carolina and the Isaac Russell Family (1982), Marvin Lowery McCrory: A Biography (2003), and The Three Siblings: From “innumerable benefits” to “servants for the common good” (2010). Her final book, about houses and neighborhoods in Columbia, will be published posthumously. At her death she was a member of Phi Beta Kappa, the Luncheon Club, the Fortnightly Book Club, the Assembly, and the Gamecock Club. Sarah was as legendary for frankness as she was for her kindness. After a visit by her minister in her final illness, she whispered to her daughters as she was leaving, “I was never as religious as they thought I was…” The minister, who heard it loud and clear, just chuckled and said, “You could have fooled me!” In lieu of flowers, please make donations to the St Martin’s in the Fields Foundation Building Fund, 5220 Clemson Avenue, Columbia, SC 29206.
Sarah Graydon McCrory, 96, a long time Episcopal Church and civic leader, died on Tuesday, October 24, 2017 at her apartment in the Still Hopes Episcopal Retirement Community. A memorial service to celebrate her life will be held at Saint Martin’s... View Obituary & Service Information
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