Janida Jones Murphree, 90, of Middlebury
MIDDLEBURY — Janida Murphree, age 90, died at 3:57 a.m. on Sunday, Oct. 25, at her daughter’s home in Middlebury. She died peacefully, surrounded by family, love, and prayer, after a long decline from Alzheimer’s.
Janida was born Aug. 6, 1930, to Robert Ezekiel and Ima Gaye Jones of Duncan, Okla. When Janida was a young child, her father owned and ran the Jones Brothers Dairy, which he was forced to sell during the Great Depression; he then picked up a paintbrush and traveled the country taking every job he could find, while Ima lived at and ran a National Youth Administration program for young women. With both parents working, Janida and older sister Julia Ann lived much of the Depression with their grandparents. Among Janida’s fondest lifelong memories was driving cows with her cattleman grandfather and riding her horse Skipper. After graduating from high school in 1948, Janida attended Baylor University, University of Oklahoma, and Long Beach State College, getting a B.A. in elementary education.
On Dec. 22, 1951, she married Bobby Warren Murphree. The couple lived most of their married life in and around Berkeley, Calif., where they had five children while Bobby prepared for a career in the ministry, obtaining a bachelor’s in Divinity and master’s in Theology from Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary and a master’s in History from the University of California, Berkeley.
Tragedy struck July 2, 1961, when Bobby drowned in the Berkeley YMCA pool, and Janida brought her young family — ages five months to eight years — back to her hometown in Oklahoma. A year after her husband’s death, she began taking classes at Oklahoma College for Women and discovered her life’s work as a speech language pathologist in public schools.
Over her 30-year-plus career, Janida worked in Kansas, Oklahoma, and Colorado. She loved her work and took pride in helping kids lead better, happier lives, while supporting her family. After her retirement, she moved to Colorado Springs, Colo., and took up oil painting, taking classes and painting hundreds of pictures of flowers, trees, birds, frogs, barns, fields, pastures, and cows. When Alzheimer’s made living alone no longer an option, Janida’s children moved her to Middlebury to live with daughter Gaen Murphree, son-in-law Gregor Clark, and their two daughters, Meigan and Chloe. She returned again to Middlebury this past August, arriving by medical transport.
Janida’s children remember her gratefully for her grit and determination in the face of hardship; for teaching them the value of work; for instilling a love of music, books, and learning; for taking them camping in beautiful places like the Rocky Mountains and Grand Tetons; for letting them use their own minds and gain independence; and for always letting them know how much she loved them.
Janida is survived by sons Robert Murphree, of Norman, Okla.; Sidney Murphree, of Louisville, Ky.; and Jacob Murphree, of Omaha, Neb.; by daughter Gaen Murphree, of Middlebury, Vt.; by grandchildren Matthew, Colin, and John Murphree; Ian, Luke, and Jessica Murphree; and Meigan and Chloe Clark. Her daughter Meigan Murphree, then of Lawton, Okla., died in 1998.
The family is grateful beyond words to Addison County Home Health and Hospice — especially nurses Emily Jenkins and Laura Dame — for their support during Janida’s decline and death; to doctors Diana Barnard and Laura Weylman for their wisdom and kindness; to Elderly Services for their loving staff, expert advice and incredible programming; and to many others too numerous to mention — you know who you are — a heartfelt thanks!◊
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