Retired U-M Law School official left lasting legacy

By Tom Kirvan

Legal News

She was the wife of a distinguished federal jurist. She also was the mother of a prominent member of the current Wayne County Circuit Court bench.

But in her own right, Dores McCree led a life that was equally as impressive, one where she was "revered" for her work in helping aspiring law students gain their footing in the legal profession.

Mrs. McCree, a resident of Ann Arbor since 1987, died December 7 at her home with members of her family at her side.

She was 90 and had suffered from cancer in the late stages of her life. A memorial service was held Thursday, Dec. 16 at the First Unitarian Universalist Church in Detroit.

"My mother was a remarkable woman in many respects," said her son, Wade H. McCree, a judge on the Wayne County Circuit Court.

"She enjoyed a distinguished career in academic circles as a librarian and in the career placement center at U-M Law School, and also was involved with a number of very worthwhile community causes. She touched many lives."

That was evident from those who paid tribute to Mrs. McCree at her memorial service, where such luminaries as Dr. Arthur Johnson, former president of the Detroit chapter of the NAACP, and David DiChiera, director of the Michigan Opera Theatre, offered remarks.

A letter of praise also was read from Lee Bollinger, former president of the University of Michigan and current president of Columbia University.

A native of Pond Hill, Ga., she was born November 12, 1920 and moved to Michigan with her parents and siblings at the age of 3.

After graduating from Ecorse Public Schools and what was then Wayne University, she moved to Boston to attend graduate school at Simmons College where she obtained a master's degree in library science.

In Boston, she met her future husband, Wade Hampton McCree Jr., a law student at Harvard University.

The couple returned to Detroit to marry after her husband's service in World War II, and completion of his law degree.

While in Boston, Mrs. McCree worked as a research assistant at Harvard's Massachusetts General Hospital. Their first child, the late Kathleen McCree Lewis, a Detroit attorney, was born in Boston.

Back in Detroit, Mrs. McCree became the library director at Wayne County General Hospital and two more children were born, Wade Harper McCree, a Stanford Law School graduate and member of the Wayne Circuit Court bench, and Karen McCree Harvey, a librarian in New York City.

Her husband's career flourished as he became a Wayne County Circuit judge, a federal judge for the Eastern District of Michigan and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit. He also served as Solicitor General of the U.S. and a professor at the U-M Law School.

After her husband's death in 1987, Mrs. McCree remained active counseling law students at U-M, and serving as the founding president of the Historical Society of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, and continuing as a staunch supporter of the Michigan Opera Theatre and The Friends School in Detroit.

"Perhaps my mother's most lasting legacy will be for her work with U-M Law School students, where she steered them to opportunities with major law firms and to careers in public service," Judge McCree said.

"She also was instrumental in a program at U-M Law School started by the Black Law Students Association that exposed high school students from the Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti areas to possible careers in the law.

"She was very proud of her involvement with that annual program, which was named in her honor."

She was a woman of "many strengths" with perhaps just one weakness, said her son.

"A passion for expensive chocolates," he said with a wink.

Mrs. McCree is survived by two children, four grandchildren, a brother, and two sisters.

Memorial contributions may be made to The Friends School in Detroit.

Published: Thu, Dec 23, 2010

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