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Hoyt-Cole Chapel of the Flowers

816 Walnut St, Red Bluff, CA

OBITUARY

Florence Estella McCrary

July 3, 1923October 15, 2019
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Florence McCrary (Coulter, Dugger) was a woman ahead of her time. She was a career-minded independent woman long before it was a movement. Born on a farm near Westmoreland, Kansas, she was one of 11 children. They were always a close family despite spreading from coast to coast. The family survived the dust bowl and the depression, turning hardship into opportunity by moving to Gerber, California to create a new life in 1935. She graduated from Red Bluff High School and worked for Montgomery Wards until wartime allowed her to take a position with the Southern Pacific Railroad in 1942. She worked as a clerk and chief crew dispatcher for 41 years before retiring in 1983. She often remarked that when the men came home from the war and she was pressured to give up her job, there was no way she was going back to woman’s work and lousy pay! In 1947, Florence married Richard Dugger and they had three boys together. Gary and Larry were surprise twins, followed by Tim 3 years later. They were married for 25 years. Florence loved the railroad and found the love of her life in Ridge McCrary, a railroad engineer. They were married for 23 years until Ridge’s death. She shared 3 more stepchildren with him; Dennis, Carol and Richard. The McCrary’s spent many happy summers at their cabin at Mill Creek Homes near Mt. Lassen with their many friends, especially Blanchard Rodgers. They enjoyed golfing and fishing. They always had a dog. Charley, Archie, Bridgett and Maggie were the great loves of Florence’s life. Florence was an accomplished crafts person. She sewed, quilted and tole painted. Many of the crafts were created for her six grandchildren. Before her death at age 96, they added six great grandchildren into the family. She was the longest surviving member of her siblings. She missed them greatly as well as her close friend Elaine McNutt. We would like to say thank you to Sojourn Hospice for their wonderful help in her last weeks. Also, the family gives a special thanks to her niece Kim Bradbury and Kim’s daughter Stephanie Karnes for their years of loving caregiving for Florence. They allowed Florence to die peacefully at home in her sleep. There will be a simple service at the Hoyt-Cole Chapel of the Flowers in Red Bluff on Thursday, October 24th at 2 PM. All are welcome.

Services

PREVIOUS SERVICES:

  • Funeral Service Thursday, October 24, 2019

OTHER SERVICES:

  • Final Resting Place

Memories

Florence Estella McCrary

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FROM THE FAMILY

Florence at 15.

FROM THE FAMILY

On the way to California. Florence with Jack and Dale

FROM THE FAMILY

On her bike next to brother Frank. Brother Fred on left

FROM THE FAMILY

Red Bluff High School Senior Picture

FROM THE FAMILY

Florence at 18 years old

FROM THE FAMILY

Hula Girl!

FROM THE FAMILY

Working as a Southern Pacific crew dispatcher in Gerber, CA

FROM THE FAMILY

Coulter Clan w/Parents 1948. Standing: Rachel, Lettie, Frank, Gladys, Pearl Kneeling: Floyd, Bus, Elmer, Jack, Fred, Florence, Dale

FROM THE FAMILY

Coulter Clan. Top Row: Bus, Lettie Mid Row: Fred, Gladys, Dale Bot. Row: Floyd, Pearl, Jack, Florence. Missing: Roy

FROM THE FAMILY

Florence with baby twins Larry & Gary

FROM THE FAMILY

Florence at 15.

FROM THE FAMILY

On the way to California. Florence with Jack and Dale

FROM THE FAMILY

On her bike next to brother Frank. Brother Fred on left

FROM THE FAMILY

Red Bluff High School Senior Picture

FROM THE FAMILY

Florence at 18 years old

FROM THE FAMILY

Hula Girl!

FROM THE FAMILY

Working as a Southern Pacific crew dispatcher in Gerber, CA

FROM THE FAMILY

Coulter Clan w/Parents 1948. Standing: Rachel, Lettie, Frank, Gladys, Pearl Kneeling: Floyd, Bus, Elmer, Jack, Fred, Florence, Dale

FROM THE FAMILY

Coulter Clan. Top Row: Bus, Lettie Mid Row: Fred, Gladys, Dale Bot. Row: Floyd, Pearl, Jack, Florence. Missing: Roy

FROM THE FAMILY

Florence with baby twins Larry & Gary

Biography

Written November 2000 by Florence McCrary
I was born on a farm near Westmoreland, Kansas July 3rd, 1923. I was one of eleven children. I was number nine. I still have two brother’s and one sister living. We all live near each other, so we are able to get together often.
My father worked for Potawatomie County Kansas. Mom was the one who saw to it that we all did our share of work on the farm. The baby lambs were my favorite. We usually had to feed a lot of them on a bottle. It was a happy time in my life
We all attended a small country school. It seemed that when one graduated, another one started. Usually, five of us would be in school at the same time. We had a horse named “Fancy”. Five of us used to ride to school on her at one time. In the winter, we used a buggy. Fancy had a special yoke and she was the only horse needed. I always remember when we rode Fancy that when we went up the hill, sometimes some of the kids would be shoved off her rear end. Then going down, someone went over her head. But anytime one of the kids fell off, Fancy stopped & wouldn’t move until they were away from her legs.
We almost lost Dale when he was a baby. He fell into the five-gallon bucket on the back porch (where Mom put the scrapes from the table for the pigs). Jack was riding his tricycle around the house & he saw a diaper in the slop bucket. He told Mom that someone had put one of Dale’s diapers in the pig’s bucket. Mom was able to revive him and by the time Doctor arrived he said that Dale was fine. Mom knew what to do.
Another time we were all playing ball in one of the fields. Dad’s mules were also grazing nearby. Jack was quite young, and he got tired of playing ball & started chasing after the mules. One kicked him in the face. The doctor set Jack’s jaw and Jack ate everything through a straw for a long time.
Dad not only ran the farm but took a job grading the county roads. He used his own mules and had to pay for feed for them. When the dust bowl arrived, Dad had to use most of his paycheck to buy feed for his mules because everything dried up. He had hay brought in because we didn’t have enough hay & grain being grown on the farm. There were a lot of poor people in our county and part of Dad’s job was to deliver food (from the county) to these people. Sometimes I thought they had better variety food than we did, but Dad would not take any of it. The county finally was so poor that Dad was laid off.
In 1935, when my father lost his job & the farm no long produced food, my parents sold their farm and we moved to Gerber, California. Dad was employed at the Gerber Alfalfa Mill in Los Flores.
I graduated from Red Bluff High School in 1941. I found a job working for Montgomery Wards in Red Bluff. I had a brother-in-law (Bill Ridgeway) who was working for the Southern Pacific Railroad in Gerber and he told me they were hiring women to take the jobs that were being vacated by the men going into the military. I was hired September 5th, 1942. The Southern Pacific Railroad had a large switching yard in Gerber plus all the different shops needed to maintain the steam engines and freight cars. Gerber was the terminal where freight trains coming from Roseville and Dunsmuir changed crews. I worked in the freight office as a clerk and then later I was a crew dispatcher until they closed the yard. I was transferred to the Redding Freight Office in 1972. I loved the railroad and I still miss my friends who worked for it. I retired in 1983 after working 41 years.
I had three boys and two grandchildren from my previous marriage to Richard Dugger.
Ridgley & I were married in Reno, Nevada July 13th, 1973. Ridgley was an engineer for the Southern Pacific. He was born in Roseville and started his career there as a fireman taking time out to serve in the Navy during World War II. He was promoted to Engineer when he came home from the service. His father was an engineer and Ridge has one son who is an engineer. When I was transferred to Redding, Ridge went to work on a Local Freight out of Red Bluff. In 1981, he retired after working for the railroad for 42 years.
Ridge could hardly wait to retire so that he could spend all his time playing golf and spending his summers at the Mill Creek cabin near Mt. Lassen. I did talk him into taking a Caribbean Cruise and three trips to Alaska.
When we retired, we were looking for a place that had good security and little upkeep. We wanted a place to stay in the winter months and we had our cabin for the summers. The Redwoods was the ideal place. We moved into the Redwoods in 1984. We joined the 502 Club. We went to several of the parties and meetings. The people are very friendly. We have nice neighbors on our street.
Ridge has three children from a previous marriage and four grandchildren. He passed away in 1996.
Since Ridge is gone, I try to be more active in the 502 Club. I also spend one day a month volunteering at the Attic Thrift Store. I still spend part of the summer at the cabin at Mill Creek with my family and friends and specially with my little grey poodle named Bridgette.