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Edna "Elaine" Murray
August 9, 1934 ~ November 5, 2023 (age 89) 89 Years Old
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Edna “Elaine” Murray was born on August 9, 1934 in New York Mills, Minnesota. She was the first child of Edna Esther Tolkkinen and Alfred Erkkila and their only daughter. She was raised on their family farm, along with her younger brothers William Alfred (b.1935), Donald Arthur (b.1936) and David Ervin (b.1944). David was severely disabled and died in 1956 when he was 14 years old.
Elaine graduated valedictorian from New York Mills Consolidated High School in 1952 and went on to attend Moorhead State Teacher’s College. After college she taught grade school for one year in Starbuck, Minnesota and then left for San Francisco where she worked as a secretary. There she married Roger Murray in 1956. Together they lived in Boulder, Colorado; Iowa City, Iowa; Eau Claire, Wisconsin; and Tempe, Arizona. Roger and Elaine had three children: Joseph Nicholas (1964), Paula Kay (1967), and Jennifer Louise (1969). After Roger and Elaine divorced in 1981, Elaine returned to teaching special education at Getz School in Tempe. In the 1990s, Elaine brought the first integrated special education classroom to Connolly Middle School. She continued to teach at Connolly until her retirement in 1996. Elaine spent her retirement reading, gardening, and enjoying her grandchildren. She was a member of University Presbyterian Church where she served as Deacon. She was preceded in death by her mother, father and three brothers and is survived by her three children and seven grandchildren (Billie, Grace and Lewis Fraser; Ehsa, Nicholas, and Aaron Murray; and Leah Gunter).
Elaine was a remarkably intelligent woman, shaped by a childhood on the plains of Minnesota. She will be remembered for her principled life and her unwavering support of her children and grandchildren. She leaves behind a legacy of resilience (“sisu” in Finnish) and is dearly missed by those who knew her well.