Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Muriel Kirby, 1921-2006

We lost a kind and courageous woman on Friday.

My stepgrandmother was happiest when she was surrounded by her entire family, as she will be today. Her eyes, always bright, would especially light up during Christmas (she put up more than one tree) or at a barbecue at Lake George (her favorite meal, as far as I could tell, was grilled hot dogs). Muriel wrote the book on making stepkids feel welcome in a new family; she treated my sister and I as if we had been her grandkids from the day we were born.

Muriel had a light and precise laugh, which we heard often. She always chose to make herself known through her quiet, concentrated grace even though she was an imposing presence at 6 feet. She and I shared long discussions about journalism, an interest she developed when her family encountered tragedy in the 1980s. I always appreciated that she would ask me questions about journalism ethics and practices, and would then listen to what I said. By the time I knew her, Muriel was a bit of an authority on the matter, so it did my young ego tremendous good when she gave me the floor.

I'm going home in July, and I'll spend a few days up at my family's cottage on Lake George, Muriel's favorite spot. It will be there that I think of her, the lives she's changed, and the times we shared.


I'll leave it to the State Journal to fill you in on the more public side of Muriel's life (I only wish it had been written by Katie Rexrode).

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