Healthcare Business News
Merrilee Patterson Crain, Crain board member
Merrilee Patterson Crain

Merrilee Crain dies at age 69

Board member's work included book, charity

By Modern Healthcare
Posted: November 10, 2012 - 12:01 am ET

Merrilee Patterson Crain, secretary and board member of Crain Communications and wife of Crain President Rance Crain, died Nov. 2. She would have turned 70 on Nov. 27.

Mrs. Crain was active in charitable, business and family activities. She started the Gourmet Gala for the March of Dimes in Chicago and was a board member of the Hubbard Street Dance Co. and the Goodman Theatre. She also ran the benefit and auction for the Lake Forest (Ill.) Symphony. When the Crains moved to Florida, she served on the board of the Orlando Museum of Art.

One of her proudest accomplishments was to author a self-published book on her family history as it flowed through the Patterson cottage in Craigville, Mass. The cottage was bought by her father's parents in 1919 for $4,025.

Advertisement | View Media Kit


A woman of many talents and interests, she helped design the Crain's Bermuda-style house in Windermere, Fla., and the office building for the Turnstile Media Group, her husband's company in Orlando, where she served on the board. Mrs. Crain was a talented artist, and among other works painted the cover for her book, The Cottage. She also wrote poetry.

Mrs. Crain was born Nov. 27, 1942, in Providence, R.I. She grew up in Winnetka, Ill., where she graduated from New Trier High School in 1960. After attending the University of Illinois, she graduated from the Katharine Gibbs School in Boston and worked in the engineering department of IBM in Evanston, Ill.

“Merrilee was an extraordinary woman. It's very rare that a person combines creativity and intuition with a practical side, but Merrilee did,” her husband said. “She came up with elegant solutions to problems that eluded the rest of us, and people gravitated to her for advice and counsel. We will miss her love, her pixyish sense of humor, her generosity and her invincible can-do spirit.”

Mrs. Crain met Rance in 1965 on a blind date arranged by Rance's brother, Keith. They were married eight months later. The couple raised their two daughters, Heather and Cindi, in Lake Forest, and now have six grandchildren. They split their time between Windermere and Centerville, Mass.

Mrs. Crain also forged close ties with those she worked with and was known as a valued counselor to Crain's senior management as business grew.

“Merrilee was just an amazing woman,” said Gloria Scoby, a Crain senior vice president who worked with Mrs. Crain for more than three decades. “She was direct to a fault, yet extremely supportive, an expert peace-keeper, mirthful, measured and blessed with an uncanny common sense and instinct for how to handle business issues and personal affairs as well. 'Well, have you thought of doing it this way?' she would usually say. And she was always spot-on.

“Personally, she taught me how to let go of things that were troublesome and focus on the business at hand. 'Just forget about it,' she told me more than once. If she was one thing in particular, she was decisive. I, like many people at our company, was lucky to be her friend and her colleague,” Scoby said.

“More than anything, Merrilee was a very kind, loving and generous person,” said Modern Healthcare Publisher Fawn Lopez. “She had a great sense of humor, and no matter how tough things ever got, she always found a way to help you see the lighter side of things. It was a privilege to know her, and she will be greatly missed, but the positive impact she had on our company and the people who were fortunate enough to know her will last forever.”

She is survived by her husband; her mother, Frances (who turned 100 in July); her brother Pat; her daughters Heather and Cindi; and six grandchildren. A memorial service is scheduled for Nov. 12 in Craigville.

What do you think?

Share your opinion. Send a letter to the Editor or Post a comment below.

Post a comment

Loading Comments Loading comments...



Switch to the new Modern Healthcare Daily News app

For the best experience of on your iPad, switch to the new Modern Healthcare app — it's optimized for your device but there is no need to download.