Mary Frances McLaughlin Murray, 89, of Burlington, died at 3:52 PM Wednesday, October 28,
2020, at the Great River Hospice House.
Born November 8, 1930, in Burlington, Iowa, she was the daughter of James and Helen
Mclaughlin. She married Richard John Murray of Kearny, New Jersey. They later divorced.
My mother was a proud Iowa farmers daughter. She would saddle up a horse and go see her best
friend Loretta or jump in the car at 10 years old to take lemonade to hired hands in the field. She
loved to play basketball growing up. Her home court was a gravel driveway. Her practicing
would pay off in 1948 when she would sink the winning free throw to win the girls sectional
basketball tournament for Sperry High School. She graduated from Sperry in 1948. After high
school she attended the Iowa Teachers College (UNI) and graduated with a degree in secondary
education. Her first teaching job was at Fort Madison, Iowa. For 40 years “Mrs. Murray” taught
students the exciting stories of American history. She loved teaching. She spoke fondly about her
time at Apollo and Burlington High School. She made many lifelong friendships with staff and
students alike. Her impact was far and wide and never forgotten. In 2005 she was invited to the
Kennedy Space Center to witness the space shuttle Discovery to blast off. The invitation was
sent to her by a former student, NASA astronaut Colonel James Kelly. He was to pilot Discovery
for that mission into space. It was one of many highlights she would have in her life.
Mom loved sports. Any night you could find her in front of her TV watching an NBA, MLB or
college game. She even loved watching golf! A huge Iowa Hawkeye fan mom would attend
many Iowa home football and basketball games. In 1981 she and my dad traveled to
Pasadena,California to watch the Iowa Hawkeyes in the Rosebowl. They unfortunately lost. In
1996, mom, my sister Lisa took my grandmother Helen McLaughlin to see the Chicago Bulls
play. Grandma was a huge Bulls fan. After the game, Bulls player Dennis Rodman singled
grandma out and wanted to meet her. Mom and Lisa helped grandma out to the free throw line
where Rodman was waiting. He greeted her and took off his game worn jersey and handed it to
her. Mom's biggest sports thrill came in 2016. After a lifetime of frustration and heartbreak her
Chicago Cubs finally clinched the World Series. She jokingly said “Now she could die in peace”.
My mother loved to cook and entertain. Her holiday tables were always festive and fun. She
loved to play bridge with her lady friends or meet them for a drink and a chance at luck at the
casino. She loved to travel. After retirement from teaching she cherished the times when her and
her lifelong best friend, Loretta Stevenson would go to Arizona for a few weeks in the winter.
She did this for sixteen years.
My mother was a devout Cathlolic, a person of deep faith and loved Jesus. She attended St.
Pauls/St.Johns regularly. She was a member of the Philanthropic Educational Organization
My mom was all about relationships. She loved me and my sister. She was heartbroken when
Lisa died but with great courage and strength she pressed on. Her nieces and nephews were very
important to her. She was so thankful for all her friends she was so blessed to have for so many
years. Her greatest joy was her grandsons Harrison and Trenton. She would fight wicked winds,
snowy nights and brutal summer heat so she could watch her grandsons play soccer, Little league
and basketball. On her last day of life she fought all day so she could see her grandsons one last
time. When both of them were present, she opened her eyes, smiled and went to eternal sleep.
Her journey was now complete.
Survivors include her son, Matthew (Lynda) Murray of Burlington; two grandsons, Harrison and
Trenton; one sister, Margery Meller of Burlington; eight niece and nephews and several cousins.
She is preceded in death by her parents, one daughter, Lisa Murray and one brother Robert.
Cremation has been entrusted to the care of Prugh Crematory.
Visitation will be November 6, 2020 from noon until 7:00 PM, at Prugh~Thielen Funeral Home.
The Memorial Mass of the Resurrection for Mrs. Murray will be 10 AM , November 7, 2020, at
Divine Mercy Parish-St. John the Baptist Catholic Church with Very Rev. Father Marty Goetz as
the Celebrant. Burial will follow at St. Mary's Cemetery, Dodgeville. For those unable to attend, Mass
will be live-streamed on the Divine Mercy Parish Facebook page.
A memorial has been established for Great River Hospice House.
To send flowers to Mary's family, please visit our floral store.