TRAVERSE CITY — Jerald W. Murdock passed away on March 20 after a courageous battle with pulmonary fibrosis. He was born June 4, 1939, in Saginaw, to William and Myrth Murdock.
He spent his childhood in Montrose and graduated from Montrose High School in 1957 as Valedictorian. He chose Michigan State University for his undergraduate work and was a member of the Michigan State Marching Band.
Jerry married Carol Johnson in 1961. They celebrated their 51st wedding anniversary this past August.
Jerry joined the mathematics department at Swartz Creek High School in Swartz Creek in 1961. In 1967 he received his master’s degree from Ohio State University. During his 17 years in Swartz Creek he chaired the math department, coached junior high basketball, served as president of the Greater Flint Council of Teachers of Mathematics and was on-site chairman of the Michigan Council of Teachers of Mathematics Conference in Flint in 1973. He was a part-time instructor of math at C.S. Mott Community College from 1975 to ‘78.
In 1978 he accepted a position in the mathematics department at Interlochen Arts Academy in Interlochen. He was the first to introduce computers into the Interlochen classroom and continued to incorporate new technology, including graphing calculators, into the teaching of mathematics. He served as president of the Michigan Council of Teachers of Mathematics in 1992 and hosted the Michigan Council of Teachers of Mathematics Conference in 1993 in Traverse City. He was a Woodrow Wilson Foundation Functions 2 Team Teacher during the summers of 1989 to 1993.
In 1990 he was selected for a Presidential Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Science and Mathematics. The award included a week in Washington, D.C. as the guest of President George H.W. Bush. He also received the Michigan Presidential Award for Teaching the same year. A National Science Foundation grant in 1991 allowed Jerry and two colleagues to create the Graphing Calculator Enhanced Algebra Project.
In 1998 he co-authored, Discovering Algebra II and in 2002, Discovering Algebra I. He retired from Interlochen Arts Academy in 2001. He continued his commitment to improving mathematics in the classroom by teaching math workshops nationally for Key Curriculum Press and the Teachers Teaching Technology program from 2001 to 2010.
Jerry believed there were two kinds of people in the world, the ones who loved math and the ones who were going to learn to love math. He spent his 40 years in the high school classroom encouraging students to share his enthusiasm for exploring, discovering and understanding the world with mathematics. At Interlochen he wove the study of mathematics into the study of art, music and nature. His classroom and home were filled with problem-solving games and puzzles, as well as reminders of his experiences around the world, and of the Northern Michigan woods and beaches that inspired his family and his creativity.
Jerry lives on in those he loved and who loved him: his wife, Carol; daughters, Katherine (Rocky) Olson and Elizabeth Walsh; son, Thomas (Faith Shearin); three granddaughters, Claire Walsh, Sydney Walsh and Mavis Murdock; two sisters, Sue (Mark) Smith and Sharon (Dan) Graver; and aunt, Katherine Eastman. His family also includes father-in-law and mother-in-law, Elwyn and Elaine Johnson; sister-in-law, Gayle (Terry) Tekiele; nieces, nephews and cousins; and a host of treasured friends and teaching colleagues.
He was preceded in death by his parents, William and Myrth Murdock; sister, Saundra Richmond; uncle, Forest Eastman; nephew, Robert Cooper; and niece, Sherry Watson.
Cremation has taken place. A memorial service will be held at Central United Methodist Church in Traverse City at 11 a.m. on Saturday, April 6, 2013. A luncheon will follow.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to Interlochen Center for the Arts Math and Science Scholarship program, Interlochen Public Radio or Central United Methodist Church in Traverse City.
Please feel free to share your thoughts and memories with Jerry’s family at www.reynolds-jonkhoff.com.
The family is being served by Reynolds-Jonkhoff Funeral Home and Cremation Services.