Thursday Jan 22 2009
Folsom resident and Hillary Clinton speech centerpiece remembered at celebration
By: Don Chaddock/Gold Country News Service
Georgia Murray's life recalled at library gathering
Folsom resident Georgia Murray may have shuffled off this mortal coil, but her memory remains strong in those whose lives she touched. Murray was just mere weeks shy of her 96th birthday when she passed away earlier this month, but from the stories told about her at a celebration of life Thursday evening at the Georgia Murray Library Building, she was a force to be reckoned with. More than 100 persons turned out to pay their respects and share their memories of a woman who not only helped shape Folsom, but for a brief moment, even became part of the speeches of presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton during her bid to secure the Democratic nomination. Retired Folsom Mayor Eric King spoke highly of the woman he met eight years ago while running for the city council. “She was a perfect example of community activism,” King said. King said that Murray always argued her point to get something done, but was never divisive in the way she handled things. “She made you feel like you were her favorite,” he said. “I’m sure there are 10 people here who will get up and say they are her favorite. Well, I know I was.” King said she became a personal friend and his sons referred to her as a second grandmother. “She became part of our lives,” he said. “I’ll never forget her.” Bettye Mahan, of the Friends of the Folsom Public Library, told of Murray’s warm and friendly nature. “Georgia loved people almost was much as she loved literature,” Mahan said. “I loved to hear her tell about her meeting with Frank Lloyd Wright.” Mahan credits Folsom’s top-notch library to Murray’s efforts. “Her tenacity was a major force in getting Folsom this award-winning library,” she said. “She is and always will be a community icon.” Others spoke of Murray’s time spent in San Francisco as a business owner or her travels around the world. Her son, Terry, thanked everyone for arranging the gathering in his mother’s honor. “Her involvement with the city of Folsom and this library was the happiest time of her life,” he said. “She would hate it if I was up here blubbering.” The celebration of life was meant to be a party, according to King. “We all have a sense that if it’s anything Georgia wants, it’s a party,” he said. Despite the festive atmosphere, her daughter, Dawn, broke down in tears. “My mom loved her city so much,” she said, unable to hold back the tears. “I can’t go on.” Grandson Jeff Landis read from a prepared speech. “She never got mad at me because I was her favorite,” he joked. “When you mourn a woman who is 95, there is no one left who remembers her as a child. She came into this world just 10 years after the Wright brothers flew the first airplane. … She considered the whole world her family.” City Councilman Ernie Sheldon said Murray would expect him to have something to say when there were so many people in one place. “The library will be here forever, named after her, and people will ask why and who and we’ll be able to tell them (who she was),” Sheldon said. “She was a great woman.” City Councilwoman Kerri Howell told of an exchange between Clinton and Murray at a fundraiser for the female presidential hopeful a few years ago in Sacramento. Howell said Murray, who was 94 at the time, met Clinton at a gathering of 750 people and told her that she was around to see women get the right to vote and now she was going to be proud to cast her ballot for the first female presidential candidate. “What Georgia said really made an impact on Hillary,” Howell said. “That night, I was in the kitchen making dinner and I looked up on the TV and there was Hillary, talking about Georgia’s story.” Howell quickly arranged to get a copy of the newscast, only to find out that Hilary had included it in all of her campaign speeches, not just that one. She said that when she gave Murray a copy of the DVD and explained what was on it, Murray thought it was silly. “I told her, ‘Georgia, do you know how many 94-year-old women shape national campaigns?’” Howell recalled. “She replied, ‘Dear, I’m sure lots.’” Gloria Beverage, former editor of the Telegraph and friend of Murray, said she’ll be missed. “She touched a lot of lives,” she said. Don Chaddock may be reached at email@example.com.