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McPhersonSentinel - McPherson, KS
  • Obituary: Wanza McCrary

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  • Wanza Lou Willis was born Dec. 11, 1931, in Morton, Texas, to James Olin and Pearl Dimple (Herndon) Willis, the eldest of three girls. She talked about growing up in the 1930s, about how hard times were, about nailing wet sheets to the windows during dust storms and the family’s dream of green pastures — then they moved here. With hard work, the family thrived and made Westville home.
    Wanza, her mother and her sister, Gwenda, all accepted Christ as their personal Savior at Baron Baptist Church during a missionary-led revival and were baptized in Baron Creek. Wanza was Salutatorian of the graduating class of 1949. It was in Westville High School that she met the love of her life, O.C. McCrary. Westville’s football Coach Bowles and his wife, Faynell, were looking for nice girls for his football boys to date. Wanza was the girl they picked for the shy farm boy. O.C McCrary and Wanza eventually married on Oct. 16, 1951.
    Wanza finished college while O.C. was stationed overseas with the Navy. The loss of their first baby and their separation was difficult but strengthened their commitment to each other. They celebrated 62 years together last fall.
    After O.C.’s tour of duty, he started trade school in Okmulgee, Oklahoma. Halliburton hired him immediately out of school and transferred them to Kansas. Wanza adjusted to the dirt and blowing dust with flashbacks of her childhood and made Kansas her new home. They found a church that made them feel welcome and soon found God had not only gifted Wanza with a great love for children but also a great talent for teaching them. Thus began her career in the churches everywhere they transferred, first to McPherson, then to Great Bend. She loved the children everywhere she went and the parents loved her because of her great love for their children.    
    When O.C. retired from Halliburton they left many friends and a church family they loved to come back “home.” Before retiring from pre-school work, Wanza once again found herself working with children in the First Baptist Church of Westville. As her role in church changed with age, those she taught are now teaching, and her legacy of showing God’s love for children by loving them continues.
    Roz: “I learned more about teaching children from Wanza than from any professor I ever had in college.” (Retired school teacher)
    Rachel: “The person who influenced me the most was my pre-school teacher, Ms. Wanza. She always made me feel like I belonged, and she cared about me. She always sang, ‘I am happy, I am happy Rachel is here today.’” (High school graduate)
    Alan: The wind up-skirted Wanza crossing from the pre-school room to the church building one Sunday and her response was ‘Thank you God for wind.’” (Farmer)
    Page 2 of 2 - Trisha: “I stepped on a bug in class one day when Wanza first started teaching me how to work with pre-schoolers and she very gently corrected me and said, ‘We don’t stomp on God’s creatures, we gently pick them up with a tissue then release them outside.’” (“I’m pretty sure this wasn’t Biblical,” Trisha said with a giggle.)
    Bob and Phillip: “We were neighbor kids and Wanza always invited us to stay the night on Saturday night with the promise of waffles for breakfast. The only catch was, we had to go to church with the family on Sunday.”
    In her retirement, Wanza spent many hours on the front porch swing, singing to her grandchildren and her great-grandchildren and the cookie jar was always full.   All were loved. She will be missed.
    Wanza Lou McCrary was called to her heavenly home July 11, 2014.
    Preceding her in death were her parents, Olin and Dimple Willis; sister, Gwenda Wright; infant daughter, Karen Jean; and daughter, Lisa Marlene.
    She is survived by her devoted husband, O.C. McCrary; daughters: Denise (Ghazi) Jahay of Ellinwood, Cheryl (Kirk) Loren of Peck, and Jana Hammonds of Westville, Oklahoma; sons: Cliff (Carla) McCrary of Westville, Oklahoma, Scott (Amy) McCrary of Rogers, Arkansas; grandchildren: April (Tom) Harbaugh, Amnee (Jason) Brown, Aisha (T.J.) Rains, Jessica (Richard) Lorenc, Ashley Lorenc, McKenzie Hammonds, Joe Hall, Tracy (Shane)Duncan, Tara (Aaron) Noll, Hunter McCrary, Cheyenne McCrary, Ransom McCrary, Anderson McCrary, Chance McCrary, Ethan McCrary, Jacob McCrary, Mike Hammonds and wife, Marla, Jennifer Hammonds, Scott Hammonds and Charles R Hammonds; great-grandchildren: Darian Harbaugh, Ashlyn Harbaugh, Cameron Harbaugh, Jordyn Harbaugh, Zaina Brown, Jonas Rains, Emaline Rains, Alison Rains, Gillian Lorenc, Sophia Lorenc, Lexi Hall, Brooklyn Duncan, Brayden Duncan, Brynlee Duncan and Madison Noll. Surviving also is her sister: Joyce (Jim) Webb of Kingwood, Texas; brother-in-law, Frank Wright of Westville, Oklahoma; nieces: Courtney Webb, Christy (Randy) Cox, Frankie (Leonard) Gifford; nephew: Shawn (Jeanann) Wright; and great-nieces and nephews she loved like her own.
    In lieu of flowers, donations to Downing Cemetery and Ganderville Cemetery would be deeply appreciated.
    Funeral services were July 16 at the First Baptist Church, Westville, Oklahoma, with Bro. Doug Davis officiating. Interment followed at Downing Cemetery, Baron, Oklahoma, under the direction of Roberts & Hart Funeral Home.

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