Obituary: Mary Ruth Murdoch

Doting grandmother, Claremont High School aide, volunteer

Mary Ruth Murdoch died peacefully, with loved ones by her side, on Tuesday, October 12.

The second of eight children born to Ai and Ruth Streacker, Mary was born June 13, 1943 in Providence, Rhode Island.

She grew up in Florida and Terre Haute, Indiana, graduating from Schulte High School in 1961 and then attending Indiana State University, where she earned certifications to become a dental and oral surgery assistant.

She met her best friend and the love of her life, Duncan, while he was a patient in the dental chair. They married in 1967, and together built two homes and raised two children in the Indiana woods. She switched careers to accommodate raising small children and began working in retail sales, quickly earning top sales awards and customer service accolades.

In 1982, the family moved to the West Coast and settled in Claremont. In California, she found her true calling in the field of education. She worked as an instructional classroom aide and in the Claremont High School Learning Center. She felt honored to be part of a profession where she could contribute positively to the lives of students each day. She was also an avid volunteer for school and parish charities, setting an example of service to those around her. From bake sales to bike-a-thons, she was always in charge or lending a hand.

In 1999, she and Duncan became bicoastal, moving to Needham, Massachusetts for his role in the founding of Olin College of Engineering. They returned to California in 2006 for “retirement” and to become fully immersed in the activities and events of her greatest joy: her grandchildren. She found the most happiness in the simple activities of her grandchildren’s sports games, family Sunday dinners, collecting elephant trinkets, and drinking Diet Coke while watching cooking shows and PGA golf tournaments.

“Mary often recited the adage, ‘This too shall pass,’” her family shared. “She never let medical and physical limitations keep her from enjoying her life and treasuring each day with family or friends. Her wit, stubbornness and deep faith guided her through a valiant battle with breast cancer for over 30 years. She was an incredibly bright light who saw each and every day as a victory.”

She is survived by her best friend and husband of 53 years, Duncan Murdoch; daughter, Perrin Cutting; son-in-law, Sean; grandson, Sam; granddaughter, Grace; son, Kyle Murdoch; daughter-in-law, Twila; and grandson, Austin Nickle.

A private celebration of her life will be planned in the coming months.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center at


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