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Greensburg woman was determined, creative, gracious, funny

| Monday, March 5, 2018, 11:00 p.m.
Carla Kathryn Murray, 81, of Greensburg died Friday, March 2, 2018, at her home.
Carla Kathryn Murray, 81, of Greensburg died Friday, March 2, 2018, at her home.

Growing up on an Iowa farm, Carla Murray learned how to make the things she wanted whether it was sewing clothes or renovating rooms.

She would tear down tiles and rip up flooring and then rebuild to suit her tastes, her family said.

“She wasn't afraid of that kind of stuff,” said her son Michael Murray.

Mrs. Murray didn't have any formal training, but she knew how to read, said her daughter Kathryn Cullo.

“She had a Reader's Digest guide on how to do things,” she said.

Carla Kathryn Murray, 81, of Greensburg died Friday, March 2, 2018, at her home. Born Oct. 28, 1936, in Remsen, Iowa, she was the daughter of the late John and Armella Reisch.

She graduated from the St. Joseph Mercy School of Nursing in Sioux City, Iowa, in 1957. She was working as a nurse in Omaha, Neb., when she meet her future husband, Michael Patrick Murray, at a wedding in 1961.

“They got married a year later,” their son Michael said.

Michael Patrick Murray was an Air Force officer attached to the Strategic Air Command who specialized in Soviet intelligence. Shortly after they were married, he did a tour in Vietnam.

After that, they went to Russia when he was made the air attaché to the Moscow embassy.

When they came back to the United States, they lived in the Washington, D.C., area, where she worked as a nurse. She also worked at a Stretch and Sew fabric store in Virginia and subsequently owned and operated her own franchise in Gaithersburg, Md., for five years.

They moved to Greensburg so their youngest son could attend the Clelian Heights School in Hempfield.

Along the way, Mrs. Murray worked for a company that checked Medicare and Medicaid claims and sewed clothes for her family and then uniforms for an adult amateur hockey league.

“She was always doing something…,” Michael Murray said. “She was just a kind of down to earth person. Talked frankly.”

Mrs. Murray was an avid reader who enjoyed mysteries, other types of fiction and histories and would often stay up late reading, her daughter said.

Growing up, “I don't actually remember her sleeping,” Cullo said. “I remember her with her cigarettes, her chocolate, her coffee and her books.”

Mrs. Murray kept an extensive garden that included tomatoes, strawberries, beans, peas and several varieties of lettuce, her children said. She also kept flower gardens that included tulips, gladiolas and lilies.

Her home projects included bathrooms, kitchens and a lot of wallpapering and painting. When she decided their house needed a deck, she collected two-by-fours for a year and even asked for them as birthday gifts, her daughter said.

“She was a determined, creative, gracious, funny woman,” Cullo said.

She is survived by her daughters, Kathryn Cullo and her husband, Leonard, of Sewickley; and Siobhan Murray of Arlington, Va.;her sons Michael Murray of Burke, Va., and Brendan Murray of Greensburg; and seven grandchildren.

Friends will be received from 4 to 8 p.m. Tuesday at the Kepple-Graft Funeral Home, 524 N. Main St., Greensburg, where prayers of transfer will be said at 9 a.m. Wednesday, followed by her funeral Mass at 9:30 a.m. in Blessed Sacrament Cathedral, 300 N. Main St., Greensburg. Interment will be in Arlington National Cemetery.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Friends of Clelian Heights Organization, 135 Clelian Heights Lane, Greensburg, PA 15601.

Brian Bowling is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-850-1218, or via Twitter @TribBrian.

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