Cecilia Moller Murdoch, 85, of Middlebury
MIDDLEBURY — Following a 15-day stay in the Arch Suite at Helen Porter Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, continuously surrounded by the love and presence of her four children, Cecilia “Ceil” Moller Murdoch passed gently from this world on the evening of Saturday, May 1, 2021. She had recently celebrated her 85th birthday with family, friends and quite a bit of festivity despite the COVID-19 protocols in place.
Cecilia Russell Moller was born in New Rochelle, N.Y., March 20, 1936, to Barbara Nichol and Robert Christian Moller. She and her younger sister Laurie spent their early years in New Canaan, Conn., where she fondly recounted memories of attending a one-room schoolhouse and sitting atop the family’s chicken coop. Her father worked in the insurance business and his company moved the family to New Rochelle, N.Y., New Canaan, Conn., and Bellevue and Spokane, Wash., where she graduated from Lewis and Clark High School. Ceil attended Mills College in Oakland, Calif., and graduated with a degree in Elementary Education. She taught 1st and 2nd grade in Monterey while sharing an apartment with a friend, studying Italian, and enjoying the 1950’s folk scene at coffee houses — a favorite was Nepenthe in Big Sur.
Ceil met her future husband when he called on her parents. “Wedge” was a Vermonter studying German and Russian at the U.S. Army Language School in Monterey. He was given a letter of introduction by Ceil’s aunt, who knew Wedge’s parents in Middlebury, Vt. Sparks flew and the two were wed on Feb. 20, 1960. Their early married years were spent in the military — two tours in Germany and one in Baltimore, Md. Ceil loved this period of her life when three of their four children were born and she taught special education on the base, edited a newsletter for the officers’ wives, and joined a bowling league. The way Ceil describes it, military life was a series of dinners and cocktail parties, Brandy Alexanders and homemade ice cream. They made some lifelong friends, traveled around Europe, collected wonderful memories and acquired a passable amount of German with which she peppered her conversations all her years.
In 1968, Ceil and Wedge moved to Middlebury and settled into their home on Seminary Street Extension where their fourth child was born. For many years, Ceil and other neighborhood moms (Diane, Jackie, Ruthie, and Connie) collectively raised a group of 18 children providing a childhood experience that was the stuff of storybooks or sitcoms depending on the day. Gardening, canning, sourdough bread making, birthday parties and cocktails on the front porch made for a pleasant routine.
Ceil ventured back into the workforce serving as the parish secretary at St. Stephen’s for many years and then worked in the medical practice of Patrick Stine at Porter Hospital until they both retired. Ceil loved her church — singing in the choir, teaching Sunday (and Tuesday) School, producing Sunday leaflets and monthly newsletters in her own unique style using her cartoon-like drawings and hand-cut rubber stamps and calligraphy, helping with the annual Peasant Market and serving on the Altar Guild. Ceil met some ladies who formed “The Sisterhood” of friends at this time. Ellen, Jessica, Sandy and Ceil supported each other through all that life presented and had some terrific fun along the way.
Ceil spent every moment of our lifetime making her little corner of the world a funnier, cuter, happier, more compassionate, comfortable and welcoming place for everybody she knew. She taught those around her the joy of giving, and blazed a trail for her children and grandchildren with thoughtful deeds, unconditional love and bottomless patience that we all strive to follow in our own way.
She was predeceased by her parents, her loving husband of 51 years, George “Wedge” Trimble Murdoch, and her nephew Bob Harrison. She leaves behind her daughter Jennifer Murdoch (Bill Huntington) and grandchildren Wills and Emma Huntington of Middlebury; son Andrew Murdoch (Keeley Titus Murdoch) and grandson Nichol Murdoch of Cashmere, Wash.; son Matthew Murdoch and grandchildren Elizabeth, Liam and Margaret Murdoch of Washington, D.C.; daughter Amy (Jason) Unger and grandchildren Annora and Zachary Unger of New Boston, N.H.; sister Laurie (Ron) Moller Partridge of Folsom, Calif.; niece Deidre (Tom) Harrison; nephew Mike (Jennifer) Harrison; several cousins and a community of dear friends.
A service and celebration of life will be held later in the summer at St. Stephen’s Church, Middlebury. Memorial contributions in lieu of flowers can be made to St. Stephen’s Church.◊
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