Elizabeth Reid Murray

June 10, 1925March 13, 2014

Elizabeth Davis Reid Murray, who died March 13, 2014, at Springmoor Life Care Retirement Community, Raleigh, was born Mary Elizabeth Davis in Wadesboro, NC, on June 10, 1925, to James M. Davis, MD, and Mary Kennedy Little Davis. A 1946 Meredith College graduate, her earliest career positions included continuity writer for Radio Station WPTF, Raleigh, and then program manager for WADE Radio, Wadesboro, NC. Her first husband was WPTF radio presenter and former mayor of Raleigh James W. (Jim) Reid, originally of Asheville. Jim Reid died in 1972. She married Dr. Raymond L. Murray of the Nuclear Engineering Department of North Carolina State University in 1979. Dr. Murray died in 2011.

Other career positions included Director, Meredith College News Bureau; editor, women’s section, Raleigh News and Observer; Executive Secretary, Governor’s Coordinating Committee on Aging for NC; research assistant to Dr. Clarence Poe; teacher, local history courses for Wake County Public Schools and Wake Technical College; local history correspondent, Raleigh Times, News and Observer, Raleigh Spectator, and Raleigh Magazine; member, Raleigh City Council (1973).

Her major published works are WAKE: Capital County of NC, vol. 1 (1983); WAKE: Capital County of NC, vol. 2 (2008), with co-author K. Todd Johnson; and From Raleigh’s Past (1965). Other published works include: editor and compiler, North Carolina’s Older Population: Opportunities and Challenges (1960); contributor, Windows of the Way (1964); editor, Wake County Historical Society newsletter, 1965-1969; editor/photographer, Wake County history filmstrip; guest editor, “Wake County Bicentennial” edition, Raleigh Magazine (1971); contributor to a history of the Raleigh Fire Department; contributor, Dictionary of North Carolina Biography (1979-1996); and contributor, Encyclopedia of North Carolina (2006).Awards: American Association State and Local History for From Raleigh’s Past (1965); first Meredith College Distinguished Alumna award (1970); W.P. Peace Award for best book on NC history (1983); Community Service Award, Raleigh Board of Realtors (1983); Wake County Phi Beta Kappa Award (1985); Silver Bowl Award, NC Museum of Art (1987); President’s Cup, Wake County Historical Society (1994); Anthemion Award, Capital Area Preservation, Inc. (1994).

Volunteer activities: Tryon Palace Commission; Raleigh Historic Sites Commission; Meredith College’s Board of Associates, Board of Trustees, Heritage Society, Carlyle Campbell Library, and Archives Advisory Committee; Raleigh Junior Woman’s Club; Raleigh Arts Council; Wake Memorial Hospital Auxiliary; NC Humanities Foundation Executive Committee; North Carolinians for Better Libraries; Wake Public Libraries Trustees; Pullen Memorial Baptist Church; Raleigh Mayor’s Committee to Preserve Historic Objects; Yates Mill Associates; NC Museum of Art Docents; Mordecai Historic Park; NC Executive Mansion; Raleigh City Museum Advisory Committee; Estey Hall Foundation Advisory Committee; The North Caroliniana Society; and Springmoor’s Archives Committee, Constitution and Bylaws Committee, and Library. The Olivia Raney Local History Library houses the Elizabeth Reid Murray Research Collection, open to public August 2006.

Elizabeth is survived by son Michael Ernest Reid; daughter Nancy Kennedy Reid Baker; son James William Reid, Jr., and his wife Susan Burkheimer Reid; grandson Benjamin William Reid; granddaughter Hannah Kennedy Baker; brother Frank Little Davis and his wife Sharyn Howard Davis; sister-in-law Harriet Jones Davis; sister-in-law Lula Ann Pope Davis; and ten nieces and nephews.

The family of Elizabeth Reid Murray are grateful for the many good wishes and condolences they have received. A memorial service will be held at the Springmoor Retirement Community Auditorium in Raleigh on Tuesday, April 1, 2014 at 2:00pm. More information at

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to any of the following:The Springmoor Endowment Fund, 1500 Sawmill Dr. Raleigh, NC 27615, The Olivia Raney Local History Library, 4016 Carya Drive Raleigh, NC 27610, Friends of the Archives, 4614 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-4614

Arrangements by Brown-Wynne Funeral Home, Saint Mary’s St., Raleigh.


  • Memorial Service Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Elizabeth Reid Murray

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Yusuf Muhammad

September 29, 2014

I use to work for her & her husband when they lived in the big home that I use to keep clean for them & she would often relate to me historic information about Raleigh & other historic facts... She were her own woman & stood her ground on topic related to history...

Kathy Ruse

March 23, 2014

I knew her name long before I got to meet her. When I started as a docent at the Joel Lane Museum House, it was suggested that I take a look at her book. I haven't put it down since, and now own both volumes. I am pleased that I got to meet her in 2006 when she donated her papers to the Olivia Raney Library, and was even more delighted when I got a chance to talk to her there last year at an event they held. I even had my picture taken with her--it was like meeting a rock star. She was lovely, kind and so intelligent. My sympathies to her family. Please know she will live on through her work and through the memories of everyone lucky enough to have met her.
Kathleen Ruse, Assistant Director, Joel Lane Museum House

Judy Allen Dodson

March 19, 2014

My heart felt and most sincere condolences to the Reid/Murray family. Mrs. Murray was such a joy to be around and I thank her so much for her presence and allowing me to be in her company. I would like to think that a person that departs from this earth never truly leaves, for she will still be alive in our hearts and minds, through us, she lives on. Please accept my condolences, for she will not be forgotten.

Catherine Bishir

March 19, 2014

Eluzabeth was and is one of my heroes. Her knowledge of history and penchant for accuracy were matched only by her generosity in sharing her findings with others. So many people interested in the history of Raleigh and Wake County depended on her help and relished her sense of humor and joie de vivre. She knew that history--including the chase--was fun, and she communicated that to those around her.Her books, her example, and her memory will benefit us for years to come.
We are lucky she was with us.

March 18, 2014

Wake County owes a huge debt of gratitude to Elizabeth Reid Murray for all she did to preserve our past and tell our story. She was a good friend to our family and my parents loved her dearly. She was thoughtful and generous. And even a bit daring. I remember 40 years ago she came out to Apex to take a look at the Joseph Lane house. She climbed up a ladder to the top of a rather tall chimney, where she found the year "1775" engraved on a brick, thus documenting that this was the oldest house in the county other than the Joel Lane house to survive into the late 20th century.
-Warren Holleman

March 18, 2014

We have so many wonderful memories of Elizabeth, especially when she was writing her 1st volume...walking the historic places with she and our father...J. Bourke Bilisoly, and in the Wake Co. Historical Society. She shall always be in our hearts and are so sadden to hear of your loss.our sympathy and condolences are with each of you. AnnwWilson (Bilisoly) Vaughan and Larry Vaughan

John Vandenbergh

March 17, 2014

Elizabeth Reid Murray was a scholar and activist for historic preservation. Her efforts during the early days of restoring the 250 year-old Yates Mill contributed greatly to its restoration. The thousands of people who have visited the mill and surrounding park owe her their thanks.
John Vandenbergh, Past President, Yates Mill Associates.

Betsy Poe Manning

March 16, 2014

What a wonderful write-up for a fabulous lady. I loved knowing her and baby-sitting for you "kids" long ago.

Phyllis Reagan

March 16, 2014

Elizabeth was one of the most thoughtful, dedicated and talented person I've ever know. She was a private person, but shared her knowledge willingly.

March 16, 2014

My thoughts and prayers are with the family of Elizabeth. May she rest in peace.