Elliott Brooks McGrew Jr.

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April 30, 1927 - December 9, 2013 Beloved husband, father, brother, grandfather, uncle, and steadfast friend, Dr. Elliott Brooks McGrew, Jr. of Valencia, California, died peacefully at home on December 9, 2013 at the age of 86 after a yearlong struggle with lung cancer. Elliott was a true gentleman and distinguished scholar and teacher who embodied intelligence, passion, dignity, creativity, and grace. He will be remembered fondly by his family and friends for his sense of humor and quick wit, his love of reading and travel, his curiosity of all things, and his incredible mind that remembered everything. Elliott was born on April 30, 1927, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the older of two sons born to Elliott Brooks McGrew and Helen (Beltz) McGrew. He attended elementary school and high school in White Plains, New York. He was active in scouting, achieving an Eagle scouting award. After service in the Marines in the 1940s, he went on to graduate from Washington Jefferson College in Washington, Pennsylvania, in 1950. He then attended the University of Connecticut, earning his Master's degree in English in 1952. After teaching two years at Deerfield Academy in Deerfield, Massachusetts, he moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota. There, he obtained a PhD in American Studies at the University of Minnesota. It was at the University of Minnesota that Elliott fell in love with his future bride, Elinor Huggenvik. Both worked in the office of the Dean of Students while attending graduate school. In 1956, Elliott and Elinor were married at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota, by Elinor's father, Theodore Huggenvik, the head of the Religion Department at St. Olaf, and her brother, Gerhard, also a Lutheran minister. Two years after they married, they moved to Lakeville, Connecticut, where Elliott taught English for seven years at the Hotchkiss School while he continued to work toward his PhD. While in Lakeville, the McGrews welcomed their two daughters, Rebecca and Katherine. In 1967, Elliott accepted a position at Athens College, a prestigious school in Athens, Greece, where he served as principal for seven years. While in Greece they pursued their love of exploring the country with weekly excursions to historical sites, learning the customs and culture of Greece historically and in the present. During this time, the family traveled extensively in Europe, and back and forth to the States. In 1974, the family returned to the United States, where Elliott worked as Director of Admissions and College Placement at Harvard School (now Harvard-Westlake) in Los Angeles for thirteen years, then moved to Campbell Hall in Los Angeles, where he taught English, again for thirteen years. Elinor and Elliott have been residents of Valencia since 1974, where, with Elliott's support, Elinor founded Creative Years Preschool with Gloria Stanton. After retiring, Elliott continued to explore his wide-ranging interests in Western art, film, history, music, and theater; the geography of the American Southwest; Native American cultures; the Civil War; U.S. military history; and ancient cultures and history. Elinor and Elliott enjoyed years of wide-ranging European travel, with visits to Africa, and continued travel in the United States. Elliott volunteered at the Autry National Center for almost two decades and was a docent at the William S. Hart Museum in Newhall from 2001 to the present. For three years, he chaired the "Silents Under the Stars," a major fund-raiser; was a member of the Board of Trustees; and edited The Hart of the Matter, the newsletter of the Friends of Hart Park from 2010 to 2013. Elliott served on the board of directors at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Santa Clarita, where both he and Elinor are members. Elliott is survived by his wife of 57 years, Elinor McGrew, his daughters Rebecca Grace McGrew and Katherine Brooke McGrew, his son-in-law Gary Murphy, his grandson Ian Elliott McGrew-Yule, his brother and sister-in-law Dr. Herbert and Linda McGrew, nieces, nephews, grand nieces, and grand nephews. There will be a memorial service to celebrate his life on Saturday, January 11, 2014, at 2 pm at the William S. Hart Hall at 24151 Newhall Avenue, Newhall, California, 91321. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to: the Unitarian Universalist Church of Santa Clarita, the William S. Hart Park and Museum, and the Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital, to which they are indebted for wonderful care.
Published in the Los Angeles Times on Dec. 16, 2013
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