BRADENTON — A good neighbor.
A quintessential Southern woman.
A hard working journalist.
Mary McMurria embodied all those qualities and more to her family, friends and former colleagues.
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She died Tuesday at the age of 94.
“A neighbor’s neighbor, a friend to all, always available to be of help,” said former State Sen. Ed Price.
“She was the epitome of a Southern lady. She had a way of making people feel at ease,” daughter Frances McMurria said.
“She was ahead of her time when it came to women working in the newsroom,” said Gene Page, whose family owned the Bradenton Herald for 50 years.
A native of Ellerslie, Ga., Ms. McMurria graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Georgia in journalism and went to work in 1937 as a reporter for the Page Corp.’s Columbus Ledger and Columbus Enquirer.
During World War II with most men staffers gone, she became city editor.
“Mary was an extremely hard worker and she listened to people’s stories,” Page said.
Hoping a change in climate would help her artist husband Henry’s rheumatoid arthritis, Ms. McMurria moved to Bradenton in 1945 and eventually rejoined the Page family at the Bradenton Herald working in women’s news.
“She was the family’s breadwinner,” Page said.
After becoming women’s editor in 1960, Ms. McMurria was appointed Sunday Magazine editor in 1966.
“You could look at it and know everything that was going on in Bradenton — who was engaged, having a birthday, who was having an anniversary, whose kids who were off to school,” daughter Frances McMurria said.
“It was a big deal to be in the society column,” neighbor Eileen Griffith said.
Ms. McMurria didn’t just write about the community, but was part of it.
She was a charter member of Trinity United Lutheran Church and a historian for Entre Nous.
She retired from the Herald in 1972.
“She was always thinking of other people,” daughter Patricia McMurria said. “She had a good life and lots of good friends, but she was ready to go.”
Ms. McMurria is predeceased by husband Henry. Griffith-Cline Funeral Home is handling funeral arrangements.
Vin Mannix, local columnist, can be reached at 745-7055.