Mary F. Murtha, 82, died August 7, 2020 after being transferred into hospice care that day. Her death followed a courageous battle with an undiagnosed neurological autoimmune condition whose treatment was complicated by the constraints and conditions imposed because of coronavirus.
Born June 2, 1938 in Iowa City, IA to the late Charles E. and Veronica M. (Phillips) Blount, Mary, a 1956 graduate of St. Mary’s High School, Clinton, IA, completed her Registered Nursing degree in 1959 at St. Ambrose College, Davenport, IA. She was commissioned a Lieutenant in the US Air Force in 1960 and entered the flight nurse program. She was transferred to Wheelus AB, Tripoli, Libya where she met and married her husband, Jim, and began their 44 year journey traveling the world together and raising a family.
Mary earned her BS in Nursing from the University of West Florida and MA in Social Work from St. Louis University. She retired after almost 22 years of Federal Civil Service working as a clinical nurse, nurse educator, family support specialist and retiring as the family support program manager, Hurlburt Field.
Mary, a Fort Walton Beach resident since 1970, was actively engaged in serving the most vulnerable and marginalized within the community through her various ministries including the St. Mary’s Catholic Church soup kitchen providing meals and clothing to the local homeless population. She was an ardent supporter of Catholic school education and was the catalyst in the creation of a scholarship fund to memorialize her late husband, Jim. Mary was an active member of the Council of Catholic Women, the Ladies Auxillary of the Catholic Knights of Columbus and the Society of Air Force Nurses.
Mary is survived by her four children: James C. (Ann) of Milwaukee, WI; Michael P. (Paula) of Tacoma, WA; Christopher J. (Joli) of Atlanta, GA; and Maria K. Murtha-Endris (Greg) of Tacoma, WA; her siblings Dolores (Richard) Thomann, Thelma (John) Rife, Charles Blount, Michael (Laurel) Blount, and Adaline Blount. Survivors also include ten grandchildren, one great grandchild, and many nephews, nieces, in-laws, and dear friends, all of whom provided time, love, support and prayers. Mary was predeceased by her husband Colonel James R. Murtha, her parents and her siblings Charlene (Charles) Chap, Richard Blount, Donald Blount and her nephew Austin Blount.
A funeral mass will be held Thursday, 13 August at 11:00 AM at St. Mary’s Catholic Church. A private internment ceremony will be conducted at Barrancas National Cemetery the following day.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to St. Mary’s School, Fort Walton Beach; St. John the Evangelist Catholic School Pensacola; or to a shelter or food pantry of your choosing.