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Murrells to celebrate matriarch’s 105th


A quiet strength.

Wise about life.

A family blessing.

Carrie Murrell will hear such accolades and more this weekend, however reluctant the former Georgia sharecropper’s daughter may be during the celebration of her 105th birthday.

Some 350 of the matriarch’s extended family will gather at PAL Academy this afternoon to honor Murrell, who came to Rubonia from Iron City, Ga., 60 years ago and continued working in the fields until she was 70.

“She’s going to be our queen,” said granddaughter Nefertiti Tate, 39.

“Wisdom and knowledge are the gifts she’s given us,” said great-grandson Darnell Jenkins, 23.

“If not for her, there is no family line,” said great-granddaughter Brandi Wilkins, 35.

Most of the Murrell family lives in Manatee County or nearby, but relatives from Fort Lauderdale and Miami, as well as Georgia and New York, are coming.

It’s not only a birthday celebration, but an overdue family reunion to hear grandson John Murrell tell it.

“We’re going to figure out how many great-grands and how many great-great-grands and how far else this thing is going,” said the 48-year-old lieutenant with the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office.

“We know we have six generations, but we may tip over to the seventh.”

A good idea, said Flozell Murrell, the matriarch’s 72-year-old son.

“To have your mother turn 105 and be with the grandkids, your sisters and brothers, is nice,” he said. “But it’d be good for all the grands, because they’re so scattered they hardly know each other.”

And to know Carrie Murrell is to love her, said some of her own grandchildren.

“She was calm, always in order, peaceful,” said Kathy Hatcher, a 54-year-old grandmother. “She was a sense of stability for me as a child.”

“She raised her own children, then helped to try and raise us,” said Annette Chapman, a 59-year-old great-grandmother.

“She always took time for each of us in her own way,” said grandson Willie Mitchell, 62.

Sabrina Vegas, the matriarch’s youngest grandchild, is in awe of her.

“It’s truly a blessing to have a grandmother 105,” the 30-year-old said. “She gives you a lot of knowledge about life. I would like to be 105 and have my family adore me like my grandmother.”

Vin Mannix, local columnist, can be reached at 745-7055, or write him at Bradenton Herald, P.O. Box 921, Bradenton, FL 34206 or e-mail him at Please include a phone number for verification.