Obituary of Alice R. McCarthy
Evanston, IL - Alice Ross McCarthy, PhD, 95 years old, passed away in her sleep on September 18, 2019 in Evanston, Illinois after a long illness.
She had moved to live in the Presbyterian Home in Evanston in 2011 to be closer to her family. However, for most of her adult life Dr. McCarthy lived in Birmingham, Michigan where she raised her five children.
She was born April 23, 1924 in Cooperstown, New York to Nelson and Amanda Ross. As the eldest in a farm family, she began her education in a one room school house for grades one through six. She often commented on the excellence of that experience, with older students assisting the teacher to teach the younger students. She was active in 4-H, and made many of her own clothes, including a prize-winning pair of tailored pajamas. As part of her 4-H experience she visited Cornell University, where she later received her B.S. in Human Ecology. Due to the war, she completed college in three years, and immediately enlisted in the United States Army, Women's Army Corps (WAC), where she served until the end of hostilities in 1945. She worked conducting neuropsychotherapeutic interviews with blinded soldiers under the direction of a psychiatrist, Major Bernard Diamond, at Dibble General Hospital in San Francisco.
When she was discharged she returned to Cornell for graduate school and received her Masters Degree in Guidance and Counseling. While there she met her future husband, Walter J. McCarthy Jr., who was an engineering student. They married in 1949, and eventually moved to Birmingham, Michigan where her husband served as CEO of the Detroit Edison Company.
In Birmingham, besides devoting herself to raising her five children, Dr. McCarthy was involved with numerous educational and civic leadership endeavors. These included conceptualizing and leading the Birmingham Environmental Center, working for Common Ground and Art in the Park, and serving as President of the Board of the Merrill Palmer Institute in Detroit. She served on the Board of Regents of Lake Superior State University in Michigan and eventually became Chairman of the Board of Regents at the college.
Dr. McCarthy was an avid gardener, and for many years her gardens were part of garden tours for the National Garden Conservancy. She developed exceptional collections of tree peonies, hellebores, and miniature evergreens. She was very fond of entertaining in her home with her husband, and was known as an exceptional cook who prepared food for days before formal dinners.
Dr. McCarthy was a collector with a natural eye, and in addition to her love of antique furniture, she had special expertise in three areas. She was an early collector of Inuit sculpture and traveled often with her son, Jim, to Canada to acquire work in Windsor and Toronto. Her collection was displayed at regional presentations. Her knowledge of oriental rug history and design was extensive and she owned several dozen beautiful rugs. Her third collection was of pottery from the American Southwest. She went on multiple driving trips throughout the southwest with her sons David and Jim to acquire additions to her collection and to visit the Indian pueblos where they were made.
Always interested in learning, she returned to academia and received her PhD in Adult Education and the Family from Wayne State University in 1986. This allowed her to form her own publishing company, Bridge Communications, which focused on educational material aimed at parenting and childraising. She authored and published several books including the book Healthy Teens, subsequently used by numerous colleges to teach adolescent development and health. She authored and edited a weekly column for the Detroit Free Press for the "Parent Talk" page with advice on parenting from an advisory panel of 45 professionals. For many years Dr. McCarthy produced a newsletter on parenting for the State of Michigan with a readership of 1.5 million at its peak.
Dr. McCarthy was a dedicated proponent of the importance of parenting in children's lives, the advancement and equality of women in society and the importance of community service.
She was preceded in death by her ex-husband of 39 years, Walter J. McCarthy Jr. and her brothers David (Mary Ellen) Ross and Albert Ross. She is survived by her brother, Howard (Ivone) Ross, her sister-in-law Joyce Ross, her five children, Walter (Mary) McCarthy of Kenilworth, Illinois, David McCarthy of Kingston, New York, Sharon McCarthy (David Krackhardt) of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, James McCarthy of Chicago, Illinois and William (Marina) McCarthy of Fort Myers, Florida and nine beloved grandchildren, Mike McCarthy, Christy McCarthy, Caroline (Ian) Murphy, Steve (Chelsey) Krackhardt, Katie Krackhardt, Dan Krackhardt, Alexa McCarthy, Caline McCarthy and William McCarthy.
Funeral services will be held on Saturday, October 26 at 1 p.m. at the United Methodist Church in Westfield, NY. Burial will follow at Westfield Cemetery.