We offer our condolences to the family and colleagues of the Rev. Priscilla “Peri” Murdock, who died on May 29, 2018, at the age of 86.
Priscilla was born in Cambridge, MA to William and Ethel (Murdock) Traunstein. She graduated from Suffolk University, MA, in 1954, with a Bachelor of Arts in English and History, following which she worked as a newspaper reporter, feature writer, and catalogued manuscripts at the Huntington Library. In 1962, Priscilla joined the Peace Corps and went to Manizales, Colombia where she lived with a family and increased her Spanish speaking fluency. She then received her Master of Arts in English American Literature in 1966, from Ohio Wesleyan University, before following her call to ministry. In 1985, Priscilla earned her Master of Divinity from Andover Newton Theological School, MA.
Rev. Murdock was ordained by the UU Church of Wakefield, MA on June 9, 1985, and carried out her first ministry at the UU Meeting House of Pittsfield, ME from 1985 to 1990. In 1991, she accepted a call from the UU Church in Reston, VA where she served as an interim minister until 1992. Then over a decade and half, Rev. Murdock served in a series of parish ministries at the following congregations: First Unitarian Church, Cincinnati, OH (1992-1997); UU Church of Stockton Illinois, IL (1997-2003); and finally, at the St Paul’s Church of Palmer, MA (2003-2008). On August 31, 2008, Rev. Murdock retired from active ministry.
Outside her ministry, Rev. Murdock taught UU Polity at Bangor Seminary, ME for a year (1987). She was ministerial representative for the Central Midwest Religious Education Committee (1997-2001); Secretary-Treasurer (1997-2002) for the Stockton Ministerial Association; and director for the Midwest UU Conference (1998).
Rev. Murdock also provided her services to several community organizations. She served as a member of the Palmer Rotary Club, Stockton Women’s Club; as a board member for Sojourn House (a drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility) (1998-2002); and was on the Ethics Committee of Jewish Hospital in Cincinnati (1993-1997). Furthermore, Peri taught Spanish at Wakefield High School, MA, and English and Spanish at international schools in Brussels and in Lahore, Pakistan. In her spare time, she enjoyed drama, music, reading, history and travel. She traveled extensively, to nearly fifty countries on five continents.
Peri’s friend Rev. Dr. Nina D. Grey, remembers:
“While serving in Keene UU Church, NH, I would sometimes on my days off visit Andover Newton Theological School just to get out of town! So, I would see Peri sometimes on those visits. I was blessed to be able to take two trips with her over the years, a bus tour after a Spokane GA to Seattle, Victoria and Vancouver British Columbia while I was in Keene; and a car trip to Nova Scotia while I was at Germantown in Philly. These were a long time ago! Peri’s decision to continue serving until she was 75, I believe, inspired me to do likewise!”
Peri is survived by her nieces, Leslie Garner and Debra Gerlach; her nephew, Russ Traunstein; many of her grand-nieces, nephews and cousins; and UUA Communities and friends. She was preceded in death by her parents, William and Ethel (Murdock) Traunstein, and her brothers.