Friday, March 13, 2009

"The Purple Lady"

I just found this on the Verizon home page. You never know how your life will affect others. I love the quote at the end of the article, “every decision you make is a life decision, whether it affects you for 10 minutes or 10 years or for the rest of your life.” She's my new hero. Read on....

Myrtice McCurdy, 100, longtime teacher who wore purple

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Friday, March 13, 2009

Myrtice McCurdy could see people she taught 75 years ago and tell you what they were like in the fourth grade.

Her students never forgot her, either. Her fourth-graders of 1945 have held reunions with her. She invited them to her home for the last one, about 10 years ago. Twenty of the original 28 members attended.

“She taught us more than the three ‘Rs,’” said Annette Slaughter, a member of that class. “She taught us to respect our families, to respect our God and our country. And that’s something that stuck with us forever.”

Myrtice Pinckney McCurdy, 100, died March 11 at her home in the village of Stone Mountain. The funeral is at 11 a.m. Saturday at Stone Mountain First Baptist Church. Wages & Sons is in charge of arrangements.

Miss McCurdy was 6 years old when she and her six siblings lost their mother, Mamie McCurdy, in 1914. Their father, Dr. William T. McCurdy, never remarried.

After graduating from Decatur High School and then Atlanta Normal School, a teacher training school, Miss McCurdy began teaching at the age of 18. She apparently wasn’t a fan of change.

She taught fourth grade at Stone Mountain Elementary School for 43 years. She taught Sunday school at Stone Mountain First Baptist Church for 50 years.

She wore purple clothes only, and size 6 purple shoes, said her niece, Emy Blair. And except for milk, she drank nothing but Coca-Cola, her niece said.

Miss McCurdy never married and never moved away from “Papa’s home,” the East Mountain Street house her family settled into in 1918. She lived there with her sister, Mary, who taught for 45 years at Stone Mountain High School.

For three decades, they hosted weekly Saturday night sleepovers for generations of nieces, said one of those nieces, Nan Vogler. The girls wore the matching pajamas Miss McCurdy bought them each Christmas. All purple, of course.

Every summer through last year, she took her nieces and nephews on beach vacations. She took her Sunday school students on field trips to the mountains.

“She and her sister paid college tuition for so many children, I can’t even begin to count,” Mrs. Blair said. They either paid it themselves or found funds for them, she said.

Every Sunday for at least 25 years, the sisters hosted dinner for as many as 30 family members and friends. There’d be a beef roast or pork roast with varying side dishes, but fried okra and homemade yeast rolls were always on the table.

“They never knew who was coming, but the food was always there,” Mrs. Vogler said.

Mary McCurdy cooked. Myrtice McCurdy didn’t cook, just as she didn’t drive. She prepped and cleaned up.

Her idea of a great breakfast was a slice of toasted pound cake (broiled briefly with butter) with milk and a Coke. But her favorite meal came from an Atlanta icon, the Varsity: a chili dog, fried onion rings, fried peach pie and a Coke.

Pam Jenkins, Miss McCurdy’s companion and caregiver for the past 10 years, said the teacher never stopped teaching. “I had no idea that at age 50 I would learn the most important lesson of my life,” Ms. Jenkins said, “that every decision you make is a life decision, whether it affects you for 10 minutes or 10 years or for the rest of your life.”

Miss McCurdy will be buried in a purple casket.

Survivors include three nieces; a nephew; 21 great-nieces and great-nephews; 26 great-great-nieces and great-great-nephews; and a great-great-great-niece.

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