Park Is a Good Tribute to a Great Teacher
Byline: Beth Bales
It's a relatively small park, with a few swings, slides and other assorted playground equipment. It's tucked into a corner of the sprawling Geneva High School complex at Center Street and Logan Avenue, near the tennis courts, kitty-corner from the high school, close to the more-spacious fields beyond.
And it represents a link to a Geneva of years gone by. The park is officially Marjorie Murray Park, named several years ago for longtime Geneva elementary schoolteacher Marjorie Murray.
Miss Murray, now in her 90s, taught for decades at Fourth Street and Sixth Street elementary schools, both now closed. (Fourth Street was moved to the former middle school and is now Coultrap Elementary School.)
"Because the park was by the school, the idea was it should be named after someone associated with the schools," said Gordon Cummings of the Geneva Historical Society, which was asked to recommend names. Several possibilities were suggested, with the honor going to Miss Murray.
"Everybody in the group had either had her as a teacher or knew of her," Cummings said.
"She was a revered, longtime teacher," said Caroline Simpson, who was on the historical society board at the time and whose siblings all were taught by Miss Murray. "She was very highly thought of. So many children learned to read - a lot, and well - from her."
"I was very pleased," Miss Murray said of the honor.
She's lived in Geneva almost her entire life, graduating from Geneva High School when it was downtown, where the post office is now.
"That was when you knew everyone, where they lived, who they were," said Miss Murray, from her near west-side family home where she still lives.
She has lived through two world wars ("those were awful, awful times") and many changes. She maintains an interest in the world around her, including the Clinton scandal, which we discussed. A stroke 11 years ago and a bout with pneumonia last year have restricted her activities, eliminating her volunteer work at St. Peter's Thrift Shop and other cherished pursuits.
Some of the world comes to her: friends visit and Geneva Public Library books are delivered to her door. Neighborhood children stop by, bringing with them a picture of school life that has changed considerably from her own days in the classroom, she said.
"Geneva schools are wonderful," said Miss Murray, still a booster for the system in which she taught for so many years. …