Obituary: Elizabeth Hannaford Banks MacRury, 99, former elementary school principal

Elizabeth Hannaford Banks MacRury, 99, former elementary school principal in Fairfield, died Oct. 13, at the Wolfeboro Bay Center in Wolfeboro after a period of failing health.

Born March 29, 1916 in Fairfield, Conn., she was the daughter of Clifford S. and Grace (Hannaford) Banks.

She was predeceased by her sister, Marjorie “Marney” Banks.

She is survived by several cousins and her dear friend of more than 30 years, Pam Wiggin.

Beth received her B.A. degree from Skidmore College majoring in mathematics; her M.A. degree from Columbia University in Administration and completed her sixth year of study at New York University where she specialized in Child Development. She taught in the Fairfield School System for eight years and was elementary school principal there for 27 years. She also worked with native children at the Grenfell Mission in Labrador and the Kodarkanal Mission School in South India. In addition, she worked with schools in the Orient, Australia, and New Zealand.

While living in Ct, she was active in her community and the Fairfield Hill Congregational Church. She was honored twice by the Connecticut League of Historical Societies for her books on Fairfield’s history. She was given the outstanding Alumnae Award by Skidmore College in 1972.

After spending many summers on Balch Lake, Beth and Marney purchased their home in Wakefield Corner in 1967 and retired here in 1974. Beth spent her first “retirement year” as interim principal at the McLelland School in Rochester. The sisters then opened a gift shop, “Lemonade and Gingerbread”, which they operated for several years. Beth’s next endeavor was “The Museum of Childhood”, a nine room building which held the sisters’ collection of artifacts, memorabilia and toys gathered for decades which depicted many generations of childhood. The Museum had visitors from all over the world and several documentary TV programs were produced about it.

Beth believed one should help the community with whatever one does well and regularly did what she felt would make a difference in people’s lives. With her intense interest in history, she promoted the establishment of the Wakefield Historic District and the Wakefield Heritage Commission and served as Chairman to both. She participated in getting 27 structures on the National Register of Historic Sites. She organized the Puppeteers, a group of ladies who met regularly to sew puppets that were given to each child hospitalized at one of the local hospitals. Beth was also active with the Wakefield-Brookfield Historical Society, the Parish Helpers, Opera House Committee, and many committees with the First Congregational Church of Wakefield. She was chosen Wakefield Citizen of the Year in 1996.

While living in Wakefield, she wrote several more history books including Footsteps to the Past, and Twenty Four legs and Four Wheels. She created the New England Town Meeting game.

Beth’s last dream was to create a museum/gallery dedicated to the Concord Coach and the stagecoach trade that existed in Wakefield Corner. She donated her stagecoach collection and funds to the Wakefield Heritage Commission for this purpose. In August 2014 it became a reality when the Commission opened the Heritage Centre of Wakefield Corner. Beth was present and spoke at the dedication.

A memorial service will be held Tuesday, Oct. 27, at 1 p.m., at the First Congregational Church of Wakefield, Wakefield, R.I. Interment will be at the Oak Lawn Cemetery in Fairfield, Ct.

In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts in her name may be given to the First Congregational Church of Wakefield, PO Box 809, Wakefield, NH 03872.

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Elizabeth Hannaford Banks MacRury

Elizabeth Hannaford Banks MacRury

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