ORLANDO -- Merrilee Patterson Crain, secretary and board member of Crain Communications Inc., publisher of Automotive News, died Nov 2. She was 69.
She was elected a Crain director and assistant secretary in 1974 and later became corporate secretary.
She was responsible "for helping us decide the direction of the company -- a job she did not take lightly," said her husband of 47 years, company President Rance Crain.
Merrilee Crain was born in Providence, R.I. She grew up in Winnetka, Ill., where she graduated from New Trier High School. After attending the University of Illinois, she graduated from the Katherine Gibbs School in Boston and worked in the engineering department of IBM in Evanston, Ill.
She met her husband in 1965 on a blind date arranged by Rance's younger brother, Keith Crain, chairman of Crain Communications and editor-in-chief of Automotive News. They were married eight months later.
"Merrilee was an extraordinary woman. It's very rare that a person combines creativity and intuition with a practical side, but Merrilee did," said Rance Crain, who is also editor-in-chief of several Crain publications, including Crain's Chicago Business and Crain's New York Business. "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."
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. In Orlando, she served on the board of the Museum of Art and the Turnstile Media Group, owned by her husband.
Crain also wrote The Cottage, a book on her family's history as it flowed through a Craigville, Mass., cottage her family bought in 1919.