Verna Murray, photographed in the 1970s. Photo: Courtesy family

Verna Frances (Hottel) Murray: Oct. 17, 1917 – May 28, 2016

Verna Murray was born in a Victorian house on Addison Street in Berkeley. She attended Willard Junior High and Berkeley High, and majored in astronomy at Cal. In 1940, she married Steven T. Murray (Sr.) of Oakland, who later flew P-47 Thunderbolts in Europe during WW II. In 1943 she gave birth to Steven T. Murray (Jr.), and the family lived in Tallahassee and Minneapolis during the war.

The family relocated to Manila in 1947, and to Mexico City in 1950, returning to the United States in 1952 to San Diego.

Verna cared for her mother-in-law during her terminal cancer, beginning a lifetime of service to the elderly. Verna and little Steven moved back to Oakland in 1953, where Verna studied secretarial skills and soon got a job with the Oakland Public Schools. Her husband died in 1963, and, over the years, she advanced to be Executive Secretary to the Superintendent. She retired in 1982. Five years later, she went to Hawaii on vacation to celebrate her 70th birthday and rode a bike down from Haleakala Crater to the sea.

In the meantime, Verna found comfort in the church at College Avenue Presbyterian, where she joined the choir as an alto and sang for many years. In later years she became a deacon, and she was always available to drive older members around to doctors’ appointments and to do their shopping.

Verna’s friends may know that she was an avid cat lover, and during one period in the 1970s she had eight cats in her bungalow on Chabolyn Terrace. After a fall in 1997, she moved to the Claremont House, where she spent four years until her need for additional care prompted a move to the Alameda Care Center, where she spent her last 15 years.

Verna is survived by her son Steven, now 72 and living in New Mexico with his wife and only two cats. If you would like to give something to charity in Verna’s memory, please consider your local food bank or pet adoption service.

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