Retirement an easy call for Murdock

June 30, 2003|by PEPPER BALLARD

Making tough decisions may be a part of Florence "Flossie" Murdock's job description as a college trustee, but choosing to retire from 18 years of policy-making to take more time for her extended family wasn't that hard for the former homemaker.

Murdock, 65, will end her record third six-year term as a Hagerstown Community College Board of Trustees member today, but her retirement from the HCC board also ends an 18-year public service span during which she served as the first female member of the Hagerstown City Council and as a member of the Chamber of Commerce and the Downtown Assessment District Board, to name a few.

She said she's proud of the development HCC has experienced during her tenure through the additions of buildings such as the ARCC and the growth of programs such as nursing.


Former HCC president Norman Shea said Murdock has a lot to be proud of in her years of service.

"She was very dedicated and accomplished much in her own quiet way of getting things done," Shea said.

Murdock said she never envisioned herself holding a public office when she was a student at Pennsylvania State University, majoring in elementary education. She became a fifth-grade teacher for one year, married and devoted her time to her husband and two sons.

It wasn't until her sons grew older that Murdock decided to take a job as the city treasurer, a position she would hold for seven years. But what she didn't expect was that when she resigned as treasurer in 1985, during elections for the city council, that three months later she'd be back working again for the city, in a much different capacity.

James L. Resh, a local restaurateur who had just been elected to the city council, died suddenly of a heart attack just two months into his term. Murdock was appointed to take his Republican seat on the council shortly thereafter.

Murdock said she didn't seek the appointment on the basis of her gender, but because she was qualified for the post. She said more people showed dissent over the fact that she was appointed instead of elected to her seat rather than the fact she is a woman.

At the same time Murdock was appointed to the city council, she also was appointed to the Board of Trustees at HCC.

Murdock said the transition into public service wasn't always easy, but she was able to focus on her duties thanks to the support of her husband, Robert Murdock, and the ease in knowing her sons needed less attention as they headed off to college.

She said dealing with the press became an education for her. Once she was talking on the phone with a radio reporter, but didn't realize the conversation had aired live on the station. She said she just learned to be more careful about what she said.

"You can't be a public servant and go into hiding," she said.

She recalled controversial issues the council decided upon, but has no regrets about anything she has pursued while serving the public, such as her push to build Children's Village of Washington County.

Murdock retired in 1994 from a job in marketing at F&M Bank in Hagerstown, which was the same time her husband retired from his job at Potomac Edison, now Allegheny Energy, she said.

She plans to spend more time with her grandchildren and time traveling with her husband.

"Sometimes you feel you've paid your dues," she said.

Patricia K. Cushwa, currently the chair of the Maryland Parole Commission, has been appointed to the HCC post vacated by Murdock.

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