Margaret Elaine McRory

October 15, 1940 - June 01, 2022

Margaret Elaine McRory

October 15, 1940 - June 01, 2022


Elaine McRory, environmentalist, philanthropist, artist, athlete, educator, business owner, and loving mother and matriarch of her family passed away peacefully in her home following a long battle with ovarian cancer.

The daughter of Dick and Dolly Harmer, Elaine grew up literally all over the world as she and her mother moved often to remain close to her father during his career as a Naval Officer.  Throughout her life Elaine was passionate about the outdoors, in particular fishing and skiing.

At 50 Elaine ran the Seattle half-marathon, placing first in her age division. For her 50th wedding anniversary, she and Mike visited the Canadian Arctic, 500 miles south of the north pole. Arctic adventure also included a two-week trip paddling the Noatak River in the Gates of the Arctic National Refuge. Her love of outdoor adventure meant many salmon fishing trips, hiking, kayaking, and camping. She loved kayaking trips along the B.C. coast from the outside of Vancouver Island to northern B.C. Being outdoors also included countless hours in her garden creating habitat for creatures large and small and an amazing esthetic experience for everyone to enjoy.

Elaine is known to many people in the Pacific Northwest and beyond for her decades-long commit to salmon recovery in the Whatcom County. Together with husband Mike McRory, she was instrumental in setting up the Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association (NSEA) and building that organization to what it has become today. Understanding the importance of education in salmon recovery she created the beginning of NSEA’s education program, which began on Whatcom Creek working with middle school students. She has won numerous awards for her environmental work. In addition to her environmental interests, for years Elaine served on the board of the Bellingham Festival of Music, donated generously to Planned Parenthood, and was a member of the League of Women Voters.

Elaine was a teacher. She taught middle and high school art and English when she was in her twenties. She also taught briefly as a grade school teacher at Beach School on Lummi Island in the mid-seventies. She was loved for her patient and caring teaching style, always being sensitive to each child’s unique way of learning. Her success was due to praising students for their talents and helping them overcome their challenges with a positive attitude. She was eternally optimistic. Her son Eric remembers her as a “life teacher.” Repeated lessons included, “always treat others as you wish to be treated,” and “try putting yourself in the other person’s shoes.” Elaine had a lot to share as a teacher.

From girlhood Elaine loved horses and as a young woman she bred and raised Arabians on her farm on Lummi Island.   Upon selling her farm, she moved with her family to Bellingham and pursued graduate work in art at Western Washington University.  After graduation, she became fascinated with applying the principles of origami to curved surfaces.  This led her to set up a manufacturing company called Creations by Elaine.  Elaine was proud that her hand-scored and decorated Christmas ornaments were sold in gift shops in every state of the U.S. and that her business created jobs for a number of people in the Bellingham community.

In addition to the art she created for her business, Elaine, the granddaughter of Washington artist Tomas C. Harmer, created a substantial collection of oil paintings, pastels, and water color art work, much of which she generously shared with her family and close friends, especially at the many Christmas gatherings at her home in Bellingham.

Elaine is survived by her loving husband, Mike McRory, her son Eric McRory and daughter-in-law Erin Simpson, sister Corliss Harmer, brother Tom Harmer, nieces Kristy, Julie, and Michelle Harmer, nephew Bret Johnson, and brother-in –law Ed McRory. She also leaves many extended family and friends who loved her dearly.  When asked how she would like to be remembered in her obituary, she said, “Please tell my family and friends how much I love and appreciate them.  They mean the world to me.  I am grateful to have had such awesome people in my life.”

A date for Elaine’s memorial service hasn’t yet been chosen, but the family will let everyone know via Elaine’s CaringBridge blog – Elaine | CaringBridge ( They would appreciate your kind words of remembrance on the Tributes page of Elaine’s CaringBridge blog, and in lieu of flowers, donations to the Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association ( in Bellingham Washington.

A Celebration of Elaine’s Life will be held on Sunday, June 26 at the Nooksack Salmon Association, 3057 E. Bakerview Rd, Bellingham WA 98226. Guest arriving at 1:00pm, service to begin at 2:00pm. ADA only parking  on campus. There will be a shuttle to NSEA from a nearby parking lot.

Celebration of Life

  • Date & Time: June 26, 2022 (1:00 PM)
  • Venue: Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association
  • Location: 3057 E. Bakerview Rd Bellingham, WA 98226 - (Get Directions)

Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association

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6 responses to Margaret Elaine McRory

  1. I had many dealings with Elaine through the Whatcom County Parks and my volunteer work with the Land Trust. She was a joy to work with. So enthusiastic and positive. I loved being in her presence. She will be missed.

  2. Terry and I offer our deepest condolences for your loss. Our memories of Elaine stretch back to our years on the island and extend into the years here in town. We are grateful for Elaine’s incredible work for the environment and community. And we are thankful for having had the chance to know her.

  3. Mike and family: So sorry to hear about your (

  4. Cont’d loss (our). It’s been a few years since we’ve seen Elaine, but we have fond memories of a very nice and positive person. The best. Will and Hermi Ziebell

  5. Cally Banham says:

    It is rare as a fully formed adult to encounter people who change the way you look at the world. This is how I feel about Elaine and Mike. They generously hosted me in their beautiful home for the better part of a decade during the Bellingham Festival of Music.
    When I would return home to St. Louis, after being in their orbit for a few weeks, I always felt a stronger understanding of and respect for our planet, and a sense of responsibility to look after its health – and my own!

    There are so many treasured memories. Among them, leisurely evenings sitting at the kitchen counter with a glass of wine, watching Elaine cook the fish and gabbing away, sometimes late into the night after Mike went to sleep. Elaine’s no nonsense perspective always helped me to see the bigger picture of whatever I was going through.

    Then there were the hikes – long afternoons spent chasing Mike and Elaine up a mountain. They would stop every now and then to let me catch up! There is one hike I remember most fondly. It was pouring rain, Elaine in the lead, Mike in the middle, and me bringing up the rear (the usual formation). We hiked through dense woods in total silence that afternoon. I felt completely at peace in that moment.

    I used to sit out on the deck and whittle away on my English horn reeds. One day, one of them fell through the cracks and I thought it was gone forever. To my surprise, Elaine whipped on some crazy plastic jumpsuit and crawled under the deck to retrieve it! I remember Mike saying, “She’s just showing off now!” I ended up using that rescued reed for a performance of The Rite of Spring, Stravinsky’s piece about primitive earth rituals. I was convinced Elaine’s mighty efforts put some good juju into that reed!

    Elaine’s spirit will carry on with me. I feel tremendous gratitude for our shared experience, for the friendship, and her positive influence. Knowing Mike and Elaine has truly been a gift.
    May she rest in peace. Much love to Mike and Elaine’s family and friends.

    Cally Banham

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