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Sarah Margaret Humphries McMurry

SHELBY-On Sunday, August 21, 2016, Sarah Margaret Humphries McMurry, age 93, left a large group of family and friends to celebrate her long, industrious life. She was born to the late Robert A. and Mary Peters Humphries on June 17, 1923, the youngest of eight siblings on a Cleveland County farm. Like a true farm girl, she relished the freedom, animals, and companionship of country life. She loved going to the fields with her brothers just to ride the mules. She had fond memories of a much loved horse she lost in the Great Depression, but she never lost her love for animals of all kinds.

Sarah's roots in the red Carolina clay were deep and strong. She was a life- time member of Zoar Baptist Church. She was an avid reader and good student, easily graduating from the county's Number Three High School. But her favorite memory from high school was her basketball team. Her little country team was state champion every year she played and was even reported in The New York Times! The tall, green eyed, redheaded player attracted the attention of a handsome fan who cheered for "Red" and later won her heart. She married Joe Palmer McMurry, Jr., in September 1941 just before he left for service in World War II.

During the war, she learned to drive, bought a car, worked at JC Penney's, and prayed for a family life post-war. Only two years after the war's end and Palmer's return, Sarah gave birth to daughter, Phyllis McMurry Tate (John), and then a son, Palmer Dale McMurray (Norma). She was a devoted and loving mother.

After her children were old enough for school, and for years thereafter, Sarah worked at the old Shelby Mill and then at the new Fiber Industries. At Fiber, Sarah was one of the first women to be a foreman. After her retirement from Fiber, she lovingly cared for Palmer, Jr., as his health failed.

Perhaps her most cherished role was grandmother. First came Heather Randall McMurray, who spent countless hours with her Grandma and Popsie in their house on Hunt Street. Then came Kentucky-born Adam McMurry Tate (Joni) and Emily McMurry Tate Frank (Ian), both of whom adored their "Apple Scraping" Grandma and visited Shelby whenever possible. Just two years ago, on her 91st birthday, Sarah became a great grandmother to Amelia Ray Tate.

Sarah was the last of a large and loving brood of Humphries children: Her brothers Cecil (Peg), Hatch (Lizzie), Buck (Delta), Clyde (who died as a toddler), and an infant boy; and sisters Helen McDaniel (Bill), Laura Lee Kennedy (John), and Mary Belle Cornwell (Frank). More than two dozen cousins are scattered across North Carolina and the rest of the country. Only one of Palmer, Jr.'s, many siblings remains, Ruth Lovelace (Kiever). All the others, Harrill, Tom (Ruby), David (Bonnie), and Merrill Bridges (Roy) have passed on. Only Harrill's wife Betty remains. Another long list of cousins followed.

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