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William Bill McCrae

Obituary for William Bill McCrae

December 18, 1934 - September 8, 2017
San Antonio, Texas | Age 82


William McCrae, "Bill" to all who knew him, passed away on September 8. He was born in Chicago to William and Elizabeth McCrae on December 18. Bill was the son of Scottish immigrants, but due to the economic depression in this country, he and his mother moved back to Scotland when he was one, then returned to Chicago when he was six. His Scottish heritage was always important to him. Bill knew at a young age that he wanted to be a lawyer. He attended Indiana University where he earned a B.S. in Business and obtained his law degree. He also earned an M.B.A. from the University of Chicago in 1961. Insurance Law become his specialty. Before joining USAA in 1970, he worked for the American Mutual Insurance Alliance in Chicago and State Farm Insurance in Bloomington, Illinois.

Bill accepted the position of General Counsel with USAA in 1970, becoming the youngest insurance industry General Counsel in the United States at the time. He later was promoted to Senior Vice President and Secretary of the USAA Board of Directors and remained with the company for 25 years. He thrived under the leadership of Robert F. McDermott, and helped create the legal foundation for USAA's business endeavors. His educational background and insurance experience enabled him to innovate and accomplish goals for the company, such as helping to establish the USAA Federal Savings Bank. He was a member of the American Bar Association, the Texas Bar Association and the San Antonio Bar Association. Additionally, he earned a Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter designation.

Bill was extremely involved in the governance issues of the insurance industry. He was active with the National Association of Independent Insurers, the Mutual Insurance Association, the Insurance Information Institute, and on a variety of legislative task forces. He also started USAA's first federal PAC and many state PACs and oversaw the lobbyists in Washington, D.C. According to a co-worker, "Bill worked well with people and was respected by all. He was a negotiator, a problem solver, and a trouble shooter." San Antonio quickly became home for Bill and he would remain in the city for the rest of his life.

Married to his wife, Helen, for 57 years, Bill had a deep and abiding love for her and his two daughters, Christine and Deborah. Family was always the first priority for Bill and he was a supportive father who always encouraged his daughters to follow their dreams and careers. Among Bill's passions were his work, extensive travel, history, economics, The Spurs, his Border Collies, dancing, and music of all types. His love for classical music led him to serve as President of the San Antonio Symphony from 1977 through 1981, after which he continued as Chairman of the Board.

Bill was preceded in death by his parents, Elizabeth and William McCrae. He is survived by his wife, Helen McCrae; his daughter, Christine McCrae Kelly, husband Kevin Kelly and granddaughter Lily Kelly; daughter Deborah Thomas and husband Rusty Thomas; brother Alexander McCrae, his wife Diane and their three daughters and their families; his brother-in-law Dr. James Topolgus, Jr., wife Cheryl and their four daughters and their families.

Visitation will be from 3:00p.m. to 4:00p.m. on Thursday, September 14 at Porter Loring Mortuary on McCullough Avenue, with a memorial service at 4:00. A private burial will be held for family members.

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Porter Loring Mortuary

1101 McCullough Avenue
San Antonio, TX 78212
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