Published in The Spectrum & Daily News on September 15, 2013
On September 10, 2013 Mary Violet Murdock Christensen ("Heartbeat") passed away
peacefully in her son's home, surrounded by her family. Born in Beaver, Utah on May 11,
1926 to Orrice Abram Murdock and Mary Violet Yardley Murdock; Mary Vie was the fifth
of six children. She spent the first six years of her life in Beaver, then moved with her
family to Washington, D.C., where they would spend half of the year and then return to
Beaver in late spring for the other half. She did this until graduating from Western High
School (Washington, D.C.) in 1944.
Ever dreaming of a life on the silver screen, she enrolled in acting school at Pasadena
Playhouse (California) in 1944; but she abandoned that dream for the curly haired boy
she had fallen for back in the third grade who had just returned from the Navy at the end
of WWII. She married Hal Merrill Christensen on September 8, 1946.
Mary Vie was a doer. She made things happen—good things, usually—sometimes with
her family and friends kicking and screaming in protest. Not long after moving to Chevy
Chase, Maryland, in 1961, and realizing there was no 4th of July parade, she decided to
create a parade—the best days of the year in Beaver were the parades. She organized
all the kids in the neighborhood, old and young alike, even conscripting tough-guy Johnny
Styer, the 6'6" star of the high school basketball team, to be Uncle Sam (in full costume).
Floats, marching band, decorated bicycles in synchronized routines, Dolly Madison,
George Washington, Betsy Ross, John Glenn, The Goddess of Liberty, and more were in
Mary's parades that grew into a neighborhood tradition.
Mary had a keen wit and great sense of humor, and it was hard to be around her and not
experience both. A beloved niece once said, "Being raised by Mary and Hal must feel
just like being raised by Laurel and Hardy." And she was right.
Mary loved people and devoted her life to family and friends, creating magical moments
filled with love and fun. She made fast friends of perfect strangers and long-time friends
of most everyone else. Her children, grandchildren, nieces, and nephews were
begrudging players in her Christmas plays and off-key sing-a-longs—they all loved her
too much to say no. From burying pirate treasure, to be discovered by her grandchildren
on deserted islands near their Atlantic beach house, to organizing and hosting luncheons
in Beaver for many of the widows in town, honoring their lives and good works, she was
in constant motion.
When family and friends aged and lost their spouses and had no children to care for
them, she would care for them until the end of their lives, often devoting most of her time
to them. She loved teaching her Primary Moonbeams, serving in the LDS Relief Society,
the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers, playing the piano, and creating adventures for her
grandchildren. She loved trees, dogs, Christmas, her home teachers, her bishops, her
neighbors, the Washington Redskins, and the United States of America.
Most of all, Mary loved her husband and family and made sure they always knew it—she
made everyone feel like they were her favorite; she was like a warm blanket. And always
ended visits and phone calls with her children and grandchildren by saying, "I love you
more than tongue can tell."
For 40 years, she and her family resided in Chevy Chase on her beloved Langdrum
Lane. Mary and Hal moved back to Beaver in 2002, spending ten wonderful years in the
town she loved most.
Mary is survived by her sons Hal (Sharon), Bill (Karrie), eight grandchildren, eight great-
grandchildren, brother-in-law Wayne (Anne), and sister-in-law Ilene Christensen, and
many nieces and nephews. Preceded in death by her husband Hal Merrill Christensen,
parents, brothers William Murdock, Riggs Murdock, and Dan Murdock, and sisters Jane
Jaremko and Cinda Sengstack (George).
The family wishes to thank the wonderful staff at Legacy House of Bountiful whom Mary
loved dearly and were a second family to her; also to the caregivers of Rocky Mountain
Hospice; and, especially, to Marianne Murdock, Wayne and Anne Christensen, Andrea
Williams, Rose Hunt, all those at the Timberline and Arshels; and the many kind and
caring neighbors in Beaver and St. George. Funeral services will be held on September
21 in the Beaver Third Ward Chapel, 200 North Main Street, with visitation at 11:30am
and the funeral at 1pm.
Internment at the Beaver Canyon View Cemetery.