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Mary McKelvain Murphy
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Obituary for Mary McKelvain Murphy

Mary Sabrina McKelvain Murphy died suddenly on June 19, 2017, at her apartment at Atria at the Arboretum in Austin, Texas. She was 99 years old. She was a beautiful woman who looked much younger than her age. The day before she died, she had lunch and went shopping with her older daughter. Mary was born in Oglesby, Texas, on November 29,1917, to Vertna Martin McKelvain (later Perry) and Brezant McKelvain. Her father died of Spanish flu in 1918 when she was a year old. She grew up in Waco and Hamilton. She graduated from Hamilton High School in 1935 and attended Stephens College in Missouri and Baylor University. In 1940 she married William Jefferson Murphy.

During World War II, Mary worked at what was then called Camp Hood, planning social activities for the soldiers while her husband was an Army officer in the Pacific. Following the war, she and Jeff had two daughters and moved frequently as Jeff climbed the corporate ladder in the insurance business. They lived in Lubbock and Dallas and also in Sioux City, Iowa, Hartford, Connecticut, and Pasadena, California. They retired in Waco in 1979. Mary was widowed in 1997 and continued to live in Waco for many years, where she participated in a number of clubs, including Waco Literary Club and Friday Forum, and was a member of the First Presbyterian Church. Her family marveled at how well she knew how to get around Waco using the back streets! Before moving to Austin, Mary lived in Lampasas for six years.

Mary was a skilled homemaker, supportive wife, and loving mother. Her girls always knew they were loved. She took good care of them but was not a hovering parent. She made sure they were well-dressed and learned social graces. She served dinner to her family every night and a special lunch on Sunday after church. Or, like lots of people, Mary and Jeff took their girls to Luby’s Cafeteria. Mary was an excellent cook and entertained her husband’s business associates, family, and friends, through the years. She was a kind and sweet person and a good conversationalist. She liked to talk about politics, TV shows, movie stars, and books about famous people. She kept up with everything her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren were doing until the day she died.

Mary is survived by her sister, Edwina Wieser of Lampasas; cousins, Joe McKelvain of Killeen and Marietta Heard of Houston; her daughters, Sara Sundstrom and Mary Ann Wavell, both of Austin; her grandchildren, Carrie Ann Mark of South Lake, Cage Wavell of Corpus Christi, Scott Sundstrom of Des Moines, Iowa, Jeanne Sundstrom Wood of Arlington, Virginia, and Aaron Sundstrom of Raleigh, North Carolina; and 10 great grandchildren.

A graveside service will be held 11:00 a.m., Saturday, June 24, at Oakwood Cemetery in Waco. The Reverend Dr. Arthur Sundstrom, Mary’s son-in-law, will preside. In lieu of flowers, you may send a donation to the Presbyterian Children’s Home of Austin, 5920 West William Cannon Drive, Bldg 3, Suite 100, Austin TX 78749 or at

The family invites you to leave a message or memory on our “Tribute Wall” at

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11:00 AM
Oakwood Cemetery

2124 S. 5th St.
Waco, TX 76706

Cemetery Details


Oakwood Cemetery

2124 S. 5th St.
Waco, TX 76706


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