Donna Jean Murphy Grist
Used to be — back when the world was small and there were things called newspapers — that we gathered at the family home for momentous times. We are scattered around the world and we are blessed with the technology to share the life of this woman, wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and my friend.
Donna Jean Murphy Grist
Woman. Daughter. Wife. Mother. Grandmother. Great-grandmother. Friend
Donna Jean Murphy Grist, 91, of Sunnyside Retirement Community, Harrisonburg, VA, died June 11, 2019, in Harrisonburg, VA. She was born Feb. 20, 1928, in New Castle, PA, and was the daughter of John Herbert Murphy and Mary Elizabeth Riney Murphy.
On Aug. 30, 1947, she married Richard Paul Grist, Sr., in New Castle, PA, who preceded her in death on Jan. 30, 2015.
She was a member of First Presbyterian Church, Harrisonburg, VA, where she taught Sunday School and women’s circle studies and volunteered as church librarian. She served on Highlands Presbytery, Synod of the Virginias Council for six years. She also taught Sunday School and circles and served as an elder in the Princeton Presbyterian Church, Princeton, WV. She retired as librarian from the Princeton (WV) Public Library in 1988 and moved with her husband into the Sunnyside Presbyterian Retirement Community in 1994.
She is survived by two daughters, Linda Grist Cunningham and husband Ed, Key West, FL; Elizabeth Anne Grist, West Des Moines, IA; three sons, Michael John Grist and wife Vicki, Millboro, VA; Richard Paul Grist, Jr., and wife Mary, Clintonville, WV; and, Robert Edward Grist and wife Kara, Fishersville, VA; eight grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren; and sister-in-law Doris Grist Johnson of Scottsdale, AZ.
A private family memorial service will be held at a future date.
Memorial contributions, in lieu of flowers, may be made to the Fellowship Fund, Sunnyside Presbyterian Retirement Community, 600 University Boulevard, Suite I, Harrisonburg, VA 22801.
Donna’s Hymn Playlist
This playlist plays excerpts from Donna’s favorite hymns. To hear the full songs, click on Donna Grist. You will need an Amazon account.
I wrote this column between March 19 and June 11. Knowing Mom is like touching that elephant; we each describe her differently. And that is the way it is supposed to be.
In the good times, there are whole discussions that make sense to her though perhaps not to others. In the bad times, well, I’m not the first child to feel the heart-crushing frustration of watching a parent slip away. I will write this in present tense while I can. I cannot bear the idea of past tense.
Key West Visits
Over the years Mom made several visits to Key West, even before Ed and I moved here. She and I wandered the island, rented our golf cart called Herbie and shared quiet time on the beach. In July 2012, for two of the hottest weeks on record, she joined me and Molly the Cat to unpack the moving van and set up housekeeping. Her love of organizing things meant the silverware was in the right drawer and the books were on the shelves. I have been forever grateful.