Margie E. Murdock, a retired health care worker and centenarian whose Sunday dinners featuring Southern cuisine were a family tradition, died in her sleep June 21 at a daughter’s Pikesville home. She was 104.
The former Margie Edna Williams, daughter of Simon Williams, a Bethlehem Steel Corp. steelworker, and Essie Casey Williams, a domestic worker, was born in Kingstree, South Carolina. The family later moved to West Baltimore.
After graduating in 1935 from Frederick Douglass High School, she trained to be a nursing assistant and, at a young age, married George Franklin, a Bethlehem Steel steelworker. They settled in West Baltimore, where they raised their family of eight children.
“She loved the Lord, took care of her children, and often worked two or three jobs, including being a domestic,” said a daughter, Barbara Grimes, of Pikesville. “Old folks from her time believed in hard work.”
Mrs. Murdock was 88 years old when she retired in 2005 from Dulaney Towson Nursing Home, where she had been a nursing assistant for many years.
“She was a strong and determined woman who drove her own car until she was 92,” said another daughter, Mary Franklin, of Waldorf.
After her first husband’s death in 1982, she married Phillip Murdock, a welder, who died in 1994.
A deeply religious person, Mrs. Murdock had been an active member for 74 years of Christian Memorial Church, where she was a member of the usher board, gospel chorus, flower circle and deaconess board.
“She’s an amazing little woman with a big personality,” wrote Sam C. Davis, who attends the same church and has known Mrs. Murdock since he was 7 years old, in an email.
“When we were kids, we would crowd around the front door to watch her arrive in her huge car, barely seeing above the steering wheel but handling that behemoth of a car with ease,” wrote Mr. Davis, who is managing editor of The Baltimore Sun. “Her gospel singing voice was so powerful and moving. She was the backbone of the church like so many of our seniors who helped establish the church which will celebrate its 75th year next year."
Described as a “social butterfly” by her two daughters, Mrs. Murdock enjoyed being around people, sewing, cooking, entertaining, and filling her home with family and friends.
Her Sunday dinners, which were a ritual, became the centerpiece of her family’s life.
“She’d prepare fried chicken, collard greens, macaroni and cheese, hot rolls and cake,” Ms. Grimes said. “She loved to eat, and she loved chicken wings.”
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Said Ms. Franklin: “She had family, her children, friends and whoever else she invited. She’d bake a cake every Sunday — her chocolate cake was my favorite — but she’d bake a coconut cake and upside-down pineapple cake.’
Mrs. Murdock followed no particular regimen in gaining centenarian status; her daughters said she ate what she liked and avoided alcohol.
“She had her faith, and God kept her,” Ms. Grimes said. “She lived a life of balance.”
“She was just thrilled and thankful that she got to be 104,” she said. “She was a great advocate for prayer, and you could hear her praying in the morning and praying at night. She prayed all the time.”
Wrote Mr. Davis: “Her longevity was an inspiration to all of us, and she gave God the glory for her many years.”
A homegoing celebration of Mrs. Murdock’s life will be held at 11 a.m. July 9 at her church, at 2001 W. North Ave., Baltimore.
In addition to her two daughters, Mrs. Murdock is survived by two other daughters, Margie Mobley of West Baltimore and Rena Gordon of Baltimore; 12 grandchildren; and many great-grandchildren. Two sons, George Franklin and Ernest Franklin, died in 1996 and 2004, respectively. She was predeceased by two daughters, Delores Smith and Myra Ray.