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Peter Kernan McCrary 1934-2024

Loving husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather, Peter Kernan McCrary, 90, of Manassas,
Virginia passed away Thursday February 8, 2024, in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania.

Pete was born on January 30,1934 to Lucille (Hilton) and Samuel Ellzey McCrary of Falls Church, Virginia.

Pete grew up in the Washington, DC area and had fond memories of going to Washington to watch the Senators play on opening day and of learning to sail on the Potomac River. He was an avid sailor and boat builder for the rest of his life.

He had a keen interest in math and science graduating from Falls Church High School in 1952. Pete then followed his father’s footsteps through Jackson Arch graduating from the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) with distinction in 1956 with a BS degree in physics and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army Reserves (artillery officer). Pete served in the Army Reserves for six years.

Following graduation and active duty military service, Pete taught physics and math at VMI for two years. While teaching at VMI Pete met Anna Jagiello, a junior high school teacher in Richmond, on a blind date to a VMI Hop. They were married on July 11, 1959.

In 1960, Pete secured a position at the Avco-Everett Research Laboratory (AERL) in Massachusetts where he worked on key elements of ballistic missile design which were instrumental in achieving America’s successful moon landing. Dedicated to his research and the space program, Pete spent many months down range at missile tracking stations in the Atlantic and the Pacific oceans recording/tracking telemetry from America’s emerging space systems. Pete remained at AERL (now part of Textron Systems) for 17 years where he rose to Senior Staff Member in Program Management for laser research activities.

After America’s successful moon landings Pete sought new challenges and entered law school at the New England School of Law as an evening student. Balancing full-time work, family and night school, Pete graduated from law school in 1977 (magna cum laude). Unsure if he should leave his secure AERL physics position and worried about the uncertainty of starting over with a young family, Pete was at a crossroads. Then his loving wife Anna looked him in the eye and said “you can do it”. That’s all our Dad needed to hear. Pete and Anna sold their home and risked their life savings to start a new life in Virginia as a new attorney. Pete built a successful law practice in Manassas, Virginia practicing law into his early 80s.

In retirement Pete was an active wooden boat builder constructing a variety of craft in his backyard shop from a tri-blade iceboat he sailed on many New England lakes in his younger years to larger sailboats including a 20-foot two-masted sailboat he sailed on the Chesapeake Bay until his late 80s. Using his engineering background Pete designed numerous devices to give him a mechanical advantage as he aged to help him launch and recover his custom sailing vessels. Pete likely enjoyed the occasional question from curious onlookers more than the sailing as he deployed his odd engineering devices at the local boat ramps which enabled the octogenarian sailor to solo launch and recover his craft.

Pete and Anna were married for 64 years and had four children: son James Kernan (wife Patricia) of Lusby Maryland; son John Hilton of Alexandria, Virginia; daughter Suzanne Nicole McCrary Fryzlewicz (husband John) of Chambersburg, Pennsylvania; son Peter Mason (wife Claire) of Norfolk, Virginia. Pete and Anna were blessed with eleven grandchildren and ten great-grandchildren.

Pete will be greatly missed. Funeral services will be held 11 a.m. Tuesday March 5 at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church (1427 W. Braddock Road, Alexandria, Virginia 22302).

A local funeral service will be held at the St. Mark the Evangelist Church, 385 S. Ridge Avenue, Greencastle, PA 17225. Date and time will be updated shortly.

To send flowers to the family of Peter McCrary, please visit the Heartfelt Sympathies Store.


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