James C. McCrea; Book Designer

Sept. 12, 1920 - Nov. 6, 2013
James C. McCrea, Sept. 12, 1920 - Nov. 6, 2013

       James C. McCrea, a typographer and book designer who continued to create small books and paper products on an antique hand press until recently, died at home on Main Street in East Hampton on Nov. 6 after an illness of several months. He was 93.

       In his professional life, Mr. McCrea worked with many of the major publishing houses in New York. He also collaborated on four children’s books that his wife, Ruth, wrote and illustrated, which were published by Atheneum Books. In 1963, the American Institute of Graphic Arts named one of them, “The King’s Procession,” one of the 50 best books of the year. He also taught typography at Cooper Union in New York City for a decade.

       Mr. McCrea was born on Sept. 12, 1920, in Peoria, Ill. to James Craig McCrea Jr. and the former Ruth Pirman. He grew up in Peoria and in Miami. He attended Sewanee: the University of the South in Tennessee, and served in the merchant marine during World War II. He and his wife were married on July 4, 1943, and celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary this past summer.

       His family said he was known for a kind, gracious nature, lifelong curiosity, and interest in the affairs of the world. He and his wife lived in Bayport before relocating in 1980 to East Hampton, where he joined his wife in being a proud steward of a historic house.

       Mr. McCrea was a member of the Tuesday Club, a group of retired men who meet regularly in Southampton, and the East Hampton Historical Society. 

       In addition to his wife, he is survived by their three children: James C. McCrea III of Wilton, Conn., Ruth D. McCrea Jr. of East Hampton, and Claire D. McCrea of Southampton. He is also survived by three granddaughters and numerous nieces and nephews. A brother, John T. McCrea of Miami, also survives.

       His burial and services were private. Memorial donations have been suggested for East Hampton Meals on Wheels, 33-37 Newtown Lane, or the East Hampton Historical Society, 101 Main Street, both in East Hampton 11937.