Willard M. McRae
1933 - 2016
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Social worker, civic leader, and a tireless volunteer who devoted himself to improving the lives of many, especially young people, Willard M. McRae died February 18th at his home in Middletown, CT. He was 82. A native of Middletown, Willard was born on October 11, 1933, the youngest of five children of Edmond and Bertha (Gillespie) McRae. He graduated from Middletown High School in 1951 and then earned his bachelor's from Central Connecticut State College. He completed a two year tour of duty in the Navy as a chaplain's assistant. Following his service, Willard returned home and was employed as a caseworker in the State Welfare Department. After receiving his master's in social work from the University of Connecticut and becoming a licensed clinical social worker, he became the District Director of the Middletown office. Willard served Middletown well over a long and distinguished career. He was elected to three terms on the Middletown City Council. He was a proud founder of the Wesleyan University Upward Bound Program and made major contributions to many local organizations. Willard was the first African-American to chair the Board of Directors at Liberty Bank and was a founding director of both the Liberty Bank Foundation and the Community Foundation of Middlesex County. At the time of his retirement in 1996, Willard was the Administrative Director of the Middlesex Hospital Mental Health Clinic. For his distinguished service, Willard has received numerous awards including the Middletown Press 2015 Person of the Year, the Sherry and Herb Clark Beacon of Philanthropy Award from the Community Foundation of Middlesex County and the Middlesex United Way Community Leadership Award. He is also a past recipient of the Liberty Bank Community Diversity Award and received the additional honor of having the award named for him. Willard is survived by Katherine (Bolden) McRae, his wife of 53 years; two daughters, Sandra Alyssa McRae Bowie (Dwain) of Rockwall, Texas; Lorraine Moira McRae, M.D. (Mike Fuquay) of Savannah, Ga.; a brother, Edmund McRae, of Middletown; four grandchildren, Morgan, Justin, Peerce and Vivian; and a host of nieces and nephews. Besides his parents, he was predeceased by his brother, Irving, and sisters, Thelma Riley and Vivian Wesley. Funeral services will be held on Tuesday, February 23rd at 10:30 am at Wesleyan University Memorial Chapel, High Street, Middletown. Burial will follow in Pine Grove Cemetery where full military honors will be accorded. Family and friends may call on Monday evening from 4:00 to 7:00 pm at Doolittle Funeral Home, 14 Old Church Street, Middletown. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Katherine and Willard McRae Fund of the Community Foundation of Middlesex County, 211 South Main Street, Middletown, CT 06457, Middlesex Hospital Hospice and Palliative Care, 28 Crescent Street, Middletown, CT 06457 or Middlesex Hospital Cancer Center, 536 Saybrook Road, Middletown, CT 06457. To share memories or send condolences to the McRae family, please visit www.doolittlefuneralservice.com.





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Published in Hartford Courant on Feb. 20, 2016.
MEMORIAL EVENTS
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Pine Grove Cemetery
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43 entries
May 18, 2020
In loving memory of a wonderful person. Mr. McRae supervised me in 1990's while working emergency child hotline. He supported my career in mental health. He will be forever missed. He was a pioneer and role model for all. God bless the family and friends of McRae.
Seneca
February 13, 2019
His smile brightens the day for me as do thoughts of the beautiful man he was.
Lois Clark Atkinson
Classmate
June 4, 2016
Sandra, condolences to you and your family on the loss of your father. I've been thinking about you. Gail Rossitter
March 11, 2016
Willard was a very special mentor and friend. I learned so much from him. We are so very fortunate that he shared his light with us all.

Heartfelt condolences to all the family.
Jessica Wolf
March 2, 2016
Willard was one of a kind-- a Prince of a Man. He shared many of his interests with those of us who worked with him at MMH. He had a unique way of brightening a situation with his genuine concern and exceptional people skills.

May his memory be eternal.
Betty Finnigan
February 27, 2016
Many fond thoughts and memories of Willard from 6th grade through TCC, now Conn. State University. Our friendship continued as we worked on the many class reunions. Much laughter there, too.
I always continued to keep in touch through Kathy, a friend and colleague.
I will miss the wonderful easy way Willard had. A good friend.
Rest in peace, Willard.
Grace Lineberry
February 25, 2016
My sincere sympathies to the McRae family. I remember meeting Mr. McRae when I worked at Wesleyan University in the Upward Bound Department. He always had a smile on his face and did wonderful things for the City of Middletown. Fondly, Janice Vecchitto Thomas
February 25, 2016
Grace Lineberry
February 25, 2016
With deepest and sincere sympathy from Willards friends at CSEA
Chapter 406 Middletown
Joan Holley
February 24, 2016
I heard all about Willard way back in the early 50's from my sister, Jeanne Dumont, who was in his HS class and went to "Boy's and Girl's State" with him. My next encounter was when I was at Wesleyan working an Assistant to his friend, Edgar Beckham. What an impressive dossier he had then. I had the pleasure of working with him again when I was Office Manage for the Upward Bound Program. He was always available, and would often come in with his friend, Hector. We would joke that he must have clones to be able to accomplish all that he did. But more than that, what a kind, considerate, gracious and giving person he was. There are not many who can compare. and Oh, that laugh! It was infectious.

I will miss him and keep him in my prayers always.

Gertrude Dumont Tanski
February 24, 2016
I am so sorry to hear of Willard's passing. He has been a wonderful influence in my life for over 20 years and I will miss him dearly. Garage parties will never be the same.
Julie Von Kanel
February 24, 2016
Just found out and wanted to express my sympathies to Willard's family and friends. I met Willard in the mid-'90s when I was an AmeriCorps volunteer for what was then the Child & Adolescent Service System Program in Middlesex County. He sat on the CASSP Board (among so many others). Had the pleasure to speak to him again in recent years. I remember him as the guy who knew everybody and was always willing to help anyone, including me. Thank you, Willard! Congratulations on a life well-lived.
February 23, 2016
I am so sorry to hear this news. I have wonderful memories of him from times spent with his daughter Lorraine in middle and high school. A wonderful family...a beautiful person! With sympathy, Jen Tosches Jurgen
Jen Jurgen
February 23, 2016
I have known Willard since social work grad school. In addition to his community activism I will remember him as a thoughtful kind, gentle, sensitive person. Larry Shobe Past director of CAGM
February 22, 2016
Family, cousin Willard will be missed. We all Loved him, but, God Loved him Best.
Lessie, Ruby, Ruth Melvin/McArthur/King
February 22, 2016
So sorry to read of Willie's passing. I'll always remember our happy days at Stillman, Central, and MHS. He will be missed by all who knew him.

Laura Shail Porter, MHS class of '51
February 22, 2016
Sorry to hear about Mr. MCRAE passing. Known him since I was a child wonderful man
wonderful memories of him. Praying for you and your family. Gerry Sansbury Glenn
February 22, 2016
My sincere condolences to the entire McRae family. My thoughts and prayers are with you. Willard was an amazing man!

Ann
Cromwell Youth Service Bureau
Ann Hale
February 21, 2016
My most sincere condolences to the entire McRae family. My prayers and thoughts are with you.

Sincerely,
Cathy MacEachern-Tenerowicz
February 21, 2016
I am so sorry to hear of Willard's passing. My sincerest condolences to his family. He worked as an LCSW under his Directorship of Middlesex Hospital Mental Health Clinic from '79 to his retirement. Wonderful to work with. Always pleasant, humorous and gracious to all. He will be sorely missed.
Larry Byron
Larry Byron
February 21, 2016
So sorry to hear about the loss of a truly great person. I got to know Willard when I became employed by Liberty Bank and the East Haddam Car raffle. He will truly be missed by many. My prays go out to all his family.

Sincerely,
Cindy Muzyk
Cindy Muzyk
February 21, 2016
I recall Mr McRae welcomes when i came to visit their daughter Lorraine. To read of what he accomplished you would never know because he just made you feel comfortable. To Lorraine, im sorry for your loss. Your father truly a treasure.
Dee Lockhart Boutte
February 21, 2016
Susan Lewis
February 21, 2016
I'd like to send condolences to the bereaved family, im.so glad I met Mr McRae he was a very wise manSusan LewisWadsworth Glen
Susan Lewis
February 21, 2016
My sympathy to Kathy and her family This community will miss him . Beverly Towns
February 20, 2016
Condolences to the McRae family. Willard was a man who made the community and much better place. He will be missed.
David Mazzotta
February 20, 2016
My sincere condolences to you all. You are in my prayers.
Vernell Dixon
February 20, 2016
Our deepest sympathies go out to the McRae family. May his memory be for a blessing.
Harvey and Nancy Goldstein
February 20, 2016
My sympathy goes out to you and your daughters on the loss of a husband and their father. It is so sad to lose a close family member.
My all your memories of Willard be happy ones.

Eloise Skarb
February 20, 2016
Dear Mrs.McRea and family,

I wish to send you my sincere sympathy for the loss of "Willie" McRae. I worked with him in the Middletown office of the State Welfare Dept. in the late 1959 and early 1960's as a typist for the case workers. Willard was one of the workers I transcribed for. He was a very nice man. Always a gentleman and someone to look up to. Although it has been many years since then I still admired his understanding of his clients. He will be greatly missed. Please know how much of difference he made in so many lives.

Sincerely,

Ann Mokoski
Ann Mokoski
February 20, 2016
Kathy and Family,
So very sorry to hear of the passing of Will. Growing up as a young child, Willard was larger than life to us young folks in Middletown because he always kept it real in his lessons and teachings to us all. I remember he and Vivian as our Sunday School teachers and as I grew up , Willard was my go to person for advice while serving on the Council. He was one of Middletown's favorite sons and the city is certainly a much better place to live in because of his many years of teaching, giving and serving his community. May the good Lord be with the family at such a time as this.
John Robinson
February 20, 2016
Dearest McRae Family, May the spirit of Willard's goodness and compassion be with us always. What a legacy he leaves! I cherish knowing him. Robbie Avery and Frank Zvach
February 20, 2016
To Kathy and Family,
Our deepest sympathy in the passing of Willard. He was an exceptional man who was admired by all.
Bob and Pat Frederick
February 20, 2016
My sincere condolences to Kathy and family. May God comfort you during this sad time. A great man has been taken from our midst, but his memory will be with us always.
Alvenis Riddick
February 20, 2016
Sorry I forgot to sign remembrance of Willie. Lois Clark Atkinson, MHS Class of 1951
February 20, 2016
Sorry to read the passing of Mr. McRae
Wayne Kensel
February 19, 2016
This was a very fine, talented, intelligent and kind man with a great sense of humor and dignity. He made me laugh, impressed me with his compassion and insight (particularly into politics), and always made me feel welcome. Just a fine gentleman. A great loss to Middletown and especially to his family.
Nick Sambides Jr.
February 19, 2016
So sorry for the loss of Mr. McRae.
Will always remember his kindness and good friendship with my dad.
Prayers for his entire family.

Laura Kelly Rocha
LAURA KELLY ROCHA
February 19, 2016
A wonderful picture of Willie, because his laugh will never leave my memory. I'm a lucky member of his Middletown High School graduating class. Our loyal, hard-working, and loving alumni committee has kept us together. Over the years since 1951 I've had many precious occasions to see Willie and Katherine. Warm thoughts to her and his family. What an exceptional man!
February 19, 2016
So so sorry to hear this bad news. Willard was a true gentleman. He will be greatly missed by everyone who knew him. sympathy to his family.
Maria Buatti
February 19, 2016
My deepest condolences to the McRae family. So many young people are formally educated because Mr. MCRae founded the Upward Bound program. His legacy carries on within all of us who are UB'ers! May the grace of God shine upon your family during this time of sorrow.
Deborah Kleckowski
February 19, 2016
My sincere condolences to Willard's family. I went to school with Willard from kindergarten through college. He was always one of my favorite people to grow up with-all those long years ago. Once again, my prayers are with you. Helen Bonvino Woods
Helen Bonvino Woods
February 19, 2016
Kathy Way
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