Salem, MA — Virginia Murray McArthur, age 97, passed away peacefully at Lafayette Nursing Facility in Marblehead on May 6, 2014. A resident of Salem Willows for over six decades, she was born in 42 below zero weather in Wadena, Minn. in 1917 to Elizabeth (Van Houten) and Arthur Murray. She was predeceased by her beloved husband, John from Marblehead, to whom she was married 42 years, and by her sisters, Miriam and Dorothy and a brother, Douglas. She is survived by four nephews, two nieces, and several grandnephews and nieces.
Born into a musical family, Virginia and her sisters formed a singing trio, the Murray Sisters, and performed in the Northern States area of Moorhead State University where all three attended college as did her brother and mother. Virginia earned a bachelor's degree in education from Moorhead State Teachers College in 1939 where she also was Homecoming Queen in 1937. She received a master in education with a concentration in art from Salem State College in 1970. With her lead soprano voice she often was a soloist in local churches throughout the North shore and sang in the choir at her home church, Tabernacle. For many years, she participated with the North Shore Concert Singers, singing in two concerts each year.
During World War II, Virginia served as a volunteer nurse’s aide in Fergus Falls, Minn. She was a member of various organizations including the Garden Club of Salem, where she once served as president, the Marblehead Arts Association, the Wilderness Society, and the Audubon Society for over 60 years. She was also active in Chapter P of PEO, an international sisterhood promoting educational opportunities for women. For charitable donations to the Native American Heritage Association, she received an acknowledgement as Benefactor of the Sioux. Through World Vision she also sponsored a boy in India who is studying to become a doctor.
Virginia taught English and all grades of art in Minnesota, California, and Massachusetts (Marblehead, Salem, and Danvers), retiring in 1979 from Salem Public Schools after teaching a total of 39 years. Virginia composed many poems, some of which were published in magazines and anthologies as well as her new booklet, “A Gentle Love." She enjoyed traveling to various parts of the world such as the Holy Land, Ireland, and the Orient. While at home, she enjoyed creating works of art and gardening in her free time. She also doted on several cats that she and John adopted.
The family expresses their gratitude to a nearby neighbor as well as Care Dimensions for their continuing care after Virginia’s last stroke. Memorials in Virginia’s name may be sent to Tabernacle Church, 50 Washington St., Salem, MA 01970, or St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, 262 Danny Thomas Place, Memphis, TN 38105.
ARRANGEMENTS: Relatives and friends are respectfully invited to attend. A graveside service will be in Waterside Cemetery, Marblehead, at 10 a.m. on Saturday, June 7, 2014. A funeral procession will leave the Murphy Funeral Home at 9:30 a.m. Her memorial service will follow at 11 a.m. at the Tabernacle Church, 50 Washington St., Salem, MA 01970. For online guest book or additional information, please call 781-631-8885, or visit www.MurphyFuneralHome.com.