Pearl Grace Murray celebrated her 100th birthday on Wednesday. An extraordinary milestone in the extraordinary life of an extraordinary lady!
The daughter of Canon Kenrick Bhagan and his wife, Ethel, the second of four children, Murray grew up in the rectory at Tacarigua where her father was the priest at St Mary’s Anglican Church. In this environment, she developed her strong Christian faith and family values which have remained an integral part of her life.
Murray still revels in the stories of her daily train journeys and her companions into Port-of-Spain and then the walk from the Railway Station (now, City Gate) to their respective schools (hers was Bishop Anstey High School). There were many lasting friendships developed on those trips over the years. She also spent much time at the nearby Tacarigua Orphan Home (now St Mary’s Children’s Home), helping the children there with their reading, writing and arithmetic, and sharing books and toys with them. This Home was also one of her father’s special projects and she became integral to the children and the work of the institution.
Pearl Grace Murray and her husband, Lance, in earlier times.
From an early age, she showed her talent as a pianist. So much so that she was the assistant organist at St Mary’s Church from the tender age of nine, before becoming the senior organist at age 12. She developed into a highly accomplished classical pianist and continued playing fluently into her early nineties. Christmas was always special when she gathered her children/grandchildren/great grands around her piano to sing her favourite carols.
Growing up in Tacarigua shaped much of her life: the Murray family lived next door and it was no surprise that she married Lance Murray, her best friend from their early years. Their love of Tacarigua (and growing up in that community) never diminished as demonstrated by the fact that many of their “family outings” consisted of picnics in the Orange Grove Savannah (now Trincity). Short in stature–Murray will vehemently insist that she is “5’ tall, not 4’11”–she demonstrates formidable strength and has ensured that the family developed all her qualities of love, honesty, integrity and faith.
Murray’s marriage to Lance, which lasted just two weeks short of 70 years when he died at age 91, stands as a shining example of love and devotion. Naturally, Murray’s fortitude provided great support and inspiration to Lance and the whole family. She was truly blessed in that she has never suffered any medical ailments and even now enjoys good health, and can read the newspapers without her spectacles! Murray continues to be a source of inspiration to her large extended family, and to her neighbours and the staff of the apartment building where she resides.
Her proud family–seven children: Deryck (Maureen), Karen (Clive), Ronald (Debbie), Clifford (Lyn), Dawn (Frank), Patrice (Bouldou) and Solange (Paul); together with her 15 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren–have found appropriate ways to celebrate this momentous occasion within the restrictions of the pandemic, even though Murray is fully vaccinated.