A memorial service will be held for former Manhasset resident John Reagan “Paddy” McCrary at the Congregational Church of Manhasset on Sunday, Sept. 25, at noon. McCrary was the son of the late Eugenia “Jinx” Falkenburg and John Reagan “Tex” McCrary, radio and television pioneers who popularized what was to become the modern talk-show format, combining celebrity chit-chat with discussions of current events. Tex McCrary and Jinx Falkenburg raised McCrary and their younger son, Kevin, on the John Hay Whitney estate, now run by the Greentree Foundation as a conference center dedicated to international justice and human rights issues.
A student in the 1964 graduating class of Manhasset High School, McCrary was a talented member of the school’s track team, setting records in the 440-yard hurdles and triple jump events at the Metropolitan Association of the Amateur Athletic Union junior track and field championships in his senior year. McCrary’s natural athletic talent was renowned. Fellow high school track team member, Steve Bennett, ’62, said that, “Paddy never practiced running with the team,” and added that McCrary would instruct the coach before a competition, “Just tell me when to show up.”
McCrary continued setting records and crushing the competition as a student-athlete at the University of California, Berkeley, including the 330-yard hurdles as a freshman and the 440-yard hurdles in the Pacific Coast Conference in 1967. He qualified for and competed in the Echo Summit Olympic Trials in the 400-meter hurdles for the 1968 Mexico City Olympic Games. He made it to the finals at the trials, finishing fifth. In recognition of his athletic successes, McCrary was honored in 2007 as a member of the inaugural group of inductees into the Manhasset High School Booster Club Athletic Hall of Fame.
Not long after hanging up his hurdling spikes, McCrary settled near his Manhasset roots and began working at the Port Washington Tennis Academy. He started in 1975 and continued for more than 30 years, ultimately heading the junior program. A long-term interest in music led him to participate in musical theater productions throughout Long Island. In later years, this interest took a spiritual turn as McCrary began focusing on the composition and performance of contemporary Christian music. He set up the company Matthias Music by McCrary to record two albums of original music, Paradise and Angels Watching Us. He was a lyricist, composer and keyboardist. Selections from the albums can be found on YouTube.
For 25 years, McCrary shared his faith, passion and musical talent as a baritone with the Chancel Choir at the Congregational Church of Manhasset, where he was raised, and he continued to participate after moving to Port Washington a decade ago. According to Reverend Jimmy Only, minister at the Congregational Church, “performing was [McCrary’s] greatest joy.”
In addition to singing with the choir, McCrary would perform his own music using a piano and synthesizer several times a year at the Congregational Church. McCrary passed away in July at the age of 69. Reverend Only spoke warmly about McCrary, saying that he had a “big heart” and that he was a “beloved figure of the church for many years; he was friendly and affable; he will be sorely missed.”