Newark resident Catherine Murray celebrated her 106th birthday last week surrounded by family members, friends and caregivers at Millcroft Senior Living.
“She says she has lived so long because God wants her here,” daughter Betty Hilbert said, noting that her mother has a strong faith in God and is a longtime member of Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Newark.
Murray was born in Bethlehem, Md., in 1915, and her family moved to the Milford Crossroads area near Newark when she was a teenager.
She met her future husband, Alden, while attending Newark High School, and they wed in 1935. They first lived in the Murray farmhouse on Elkton Road before moving to Academy Apartments on Main Street, then a house on West Main Street and finally to the Cooper Farm neighborhood near Wilmington.
Alden died in 1984, and Murray continued living independently until 2019, when she moved to Millcroft. She has one daughter, two grandsons and three great-grandchilden.
Hilbert said her mother loves to cook and bake and in her younger days was known for making dinner without recipes.
“My father and I benefited with many excellent and different dishes,” Hilbert said. “We would say we like that and could she do it again. Her answer would be she really didn’t know what she put in it. She just would keep adding stuff until it tasted right.”
Murray enjoys reading, collects dolls, loves spending time with family, especially at Christmas, and spent a lot of time at the beach when she was younger.
“She enjoyed the ocean and was particularly fond of Cape May,” Hilbert said. “She liked the Victorian homes and just the peace and beauty of being there.”
Before moving to Millcroft, Murray enjoyed tending to her garden and loved watching the birds and squirrels, who she often fed peanuts on her front porch.
“I got a love of birds from her,” grandson Jay Hilbert said. “Now, when I see birds outside, it reminds me of her.”
Seeing Murray live long enough to meet her great-grandchildren has been a blessing, he said.
“It’s neat to have four generations,” he said.