School 13

Mary Gaines McMurray

January 30, 1934 ~ August 9, 2020 (age 86)


Mary Gaines McMurray, 86, formerly of Harrisonburg, died on August 9, 2020, in Carrollton, TX.

Mrs. McMurray, the daughter of the late Louise and Price Gaines, was born on January 30, 1934, in Keene, New Hampshire, where she grew up.

Upon graduation from Keene High School, Mrs. McMurray enrolled at Middlebury College.  Following a year off to study in France at the Sorbonne and other branches of the University of Paris, she returned to Middlebury to finish her B.A. in English and graduate in 1956. 

Mrs. McMurray subsequently taught English in high schools in Massachusetts, New Mexico, and Kentucky.  After an eleven-year hiatus to stay at home with her young children, she began teaching at the then Thomas Harrison Junior High School in Harrisonburg.  Feeling the need to know how to teach reading, she earned a M.ED./Reading Specialist degree at James Madison University and in 1977 began working with students in the JMU Reading Lab, where she remained until she retired in 1998.

Mrs. McMurray’s interest in reading carried over to her volunteer work in the community.  In the mid-1980s, with the assistance of the American Association of University Women, of which she was a long-time member, she brought the Literacy Volunteers of America (LVA) to Harrisonburg and Rockingham County and began training tutors in the LVA whole language approach to reading instruction. 

In 1987, when the Skyline Literacy Group was forming, she arranged for the local LVA to become part of the coalition.  She served on the Skyline Board of Directors for the first six years of the organization’s existence, tutoring needy students and training basic reading and ESL tutors.  As a result of her efforts, Mrs. McMurray was recognized by the Shenandoah Reading Council and the Virginia State Reading Association for exemplary service in the promotion of literacy.

Mrs. McMurray’s husband, William John McMurray, whom she met at Middlebury College and married in 1958, preceded her in death.  Survivors include two sons, Price Gaines McMurray of Flower Mound, Texas, and William John McMurray, Jr., of Tampa Bay, Florida, and four grandchildren.

At Mrs. McMurray’s request, there were no services.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the William J. and Mary G. McMurray Scholarship Fund in care of the JMU Foundation, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, Virginia 22807. 

On-line condolences may be sent to Gateway Funerals and Cremation of Dallas, TX.

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