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Lifestyles Section C Sunday, August 15, 2010 Inside: Memories of Geri Murtaugh Beloved wife, mother, co-worker and friend tude,” he added. But the No. 1 thing Geri did for the school was public relations, Ellis said. She was never afraid to write about events happening at the church or school for the Albert Lea Tribune. They said one of Geri’s favorite events to cover was the pet blessing each October in celebration of the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi. Though she was there for the newspaper, she would also bring her children along as well. She also supported the annual Marathon for Non-Public Education as the St. Theodore students would walk around Fountain Lake. Whether she was there for church, her daughters, her volunteer responsibilities or personal reasons, she was a The first two weeks of August will always be a very special time for Geri McShane Murtaugh and myself. Now more emphasis has been given to this part of the calendar with Geri’s death at St. Marys Hospital in Rochester on Aug. 7. That particular date is the exact date Geri also started her outstanding 24-year career here at the Albert Lea Tribune. Right at that time in 1986, I had been at the Tribune for two years give or take a day or two. On this particular morning two new employees came into the newsroom. Geri and her friend, Janelle Pollock, had previously worked for the Waseca newspaper. Either that day or the next morning I was asked by the editor to take these two young ladies on an orientation Ed tour of the city. Shannon Special emphaBetween the sis was given to Corn Rows the city center, court house, law enforcement center and the fire department. And it was on this first day that Geri met Mike Murtaugh, her future husband, who was then working in the advertising department. A few months later Janelle left the city. However, Geri stayed on at the Tribune. After all, she was proving to be a real keeper and tremendous asset, if I may digress. Anyway, within a few years she became the city editor, then managing editor. After marriage and motherhood, she eventually took over as lifestyles editor and assistant editor. Thus, I take pride in knowing Geri for 24 years, plus working with and for Geri and her many, many news and feature projects. Right at this point, if I may digress again with a sincere compliment, I’ve always been amazed at the amount of excellent news and feature articles Geri created for the benefit of the Tribune’s readers. During the years of knowing Geri, I could firmly rely on her help in case a ride was needed to or from some specific location. In turn, she could rely on my assistance in taking daughters Erin and Tierney to St. Theodore’s School from the Tribune on some days as Geri continued on with preparing another daily newspaper for publication. There are other aspects of this friendly mutual assistance we provided for each other, but this will suffice for now. As I was preparing this special column to honor the memory of such a nice person, there was a temptation to mention all the fine folks we worked with during her 24 years here at the Tribune. However, this would be a rather long list. It would have to extend beyond the newsroom to include advertising, classified, circulation, management, accounting, composition and both past and present press room operations. As a result, there’s a chance I might miss the names of a few folks and that just wouldn’t be fair at all. I have no idea as to what some of her present and former Tribune colleagues are going to mention in their memories of Geri. One I have is based on her enjoyment of eating at the Wok n’ Roll and seeing how many different versions of prepared chicken she could eat during one visit. I believe the record is nine. She also enjoyed making monkey bread, bars and other goodies for Tribune potlucks and special events. And what I will always appreciate sincerely is her consideration for my diabeticcontrol diet. A prime example is how she would make bars with frosting, except for a small unfrosted corner so I could also enjoy the treat. Now here’s a point which may get overlooked. The name of Geri is actually a shortened version of Geralyn. I really became aware of this several years ago when I asked her to sign a legal document. This particular document had to be signed by someone who wasn’t a family member and a person who was more than just an acquaintance. As a close friend and colleague, Geralyn was the perfect person for this document signing. As I mentioned at the start of this special salute, the first See Church on Page 2C ➧ See Shannon on Page 2C ➧ Geri Murtaugh celebrates finishing a project at work by dancing on her desk in February. Photo by Brie Cohen Geri Murtaugh’s life and love touched the lives of many By Sarah Stultz staff writer No matter what capacity people knew Geri Murtaugh, one thing always rang true. Her smile said it all. A 48-year-old mother, wife, sister, friend and assistant editor at the Albert Lea Tribune, Geri left her mark on many people. Around Albert Lea, Geri was known to most as a longtime employee of the Tribune, who at the same time was also able to maintain a strong family life and community involvement. Whether she was interviewing for a story, volunteering at an event or helping in some other way, her positive, fun-loving attitude impacted all who met her. While her death on Aug. 7 shocked and saddened the community, it also brought to mind many of the memorable experiences she had been a part of throughout the years. “Geri was special,” said Deb Meissner, one of her sisters. “We all knew that, and we are so proud of her and the life she led.” Life and light Born on June 2, 1962, to Joseph and Leona McShane in Waseca, Geri was the second-youngest of 13 children. “Geri came along after a time in our and our parents’ lives when we had suffered the tragedies of losing a 2 1/2-year-old son/ brother in a farm accident plus the death of an infant daughter/sister, all in 1960,” Meissner said. “Our family was hurting, and then when Geri came along, everything was OK again. She brought life and light back into our world.” As a child, Geri went to country school for a short time and then Owatonna Schools where she was active in the choir and played violin in the orchestra. Especially during her school years, Geri took care of and watched out for her brother Kevin, who has Down Syndrome. “She was never embarrassed by him and they were very close,” Meissner said. Geri graduated from Owatonna High School in 1980. Afterward, she attended the College of St. Thomas, first as a biology major, and later switching to journalism. “As a student, Geri was a clear thinker and a good organizer,” said one of her college friends, Teri Cain, who lives in Oregon. “She usually was ahead of deadlines for classes.” She worked at the Aquin student newspaper and also worked as an intern for the Diocese of St. Paul. Cain said she likely met Geri in a journalism class but also lived with her in Dowling Hall and was in the alto section of UST’s Liturgical Choir with her. She said she could not remember Geri’s reasons for selecting journalism as a major, but noted that Geri had a knack with words, which is what likely led her to this decision. The Murtaugh family in 2007. Geri is accompanied by husband, Mike, and daughters Erin, left, and Tierney, center. Cain said she and Geri would often revise words to songs and amuse themselves with the results. Two of their favorites were “Delilah” by Tom Jones and “The Wild Rover,” a song they learned in the pubs of Ireland on a choir tour. Music and being Irish were some of Geri’s favorite things. Geri and seven of her friends from college kept in touch following their graduation in 1984. One other friend, Patrice LaBerge Hicks, a roommate of Geri’s, said Geri was a “wonderful person to live with.” “Geri had the prettiest smile and a very beautiful voice also,” Hicks said. See Geri on Page 9C ➧ Geri’s involvement with church is memorable By Sarah Stultz staff writer A faithful parishioner and a devoted volunteer. That’s how the Rev. Jim Berning and Deacon Mike Ellis will forever remember Geri Murtaugh’s involvement with St. Theodore Catholic Church. Ellis said Geri began attending the church in 1991, when she married her husband, Mike. “They were very faithful,” Ellis said. “I don’t think they’ve ever missed Mass.” After Geri and Mike had their first child, Erin, and she became old enough to go to school, the couple enrolled her in St. Theodore Catholic School. Geri immediately became involved, seeking opportunities where she could help at the school. This continued with the enrollment of their youngest daughter, Tierney, who will be entering third grade this fall. Berning and Ellis said over the years, Geri has volunteered for the school’s auction and other events happening at the school. In the last few years, she and Mike coordinated St. Theodore’s Scrip program, which helps raise funds for the St. Theodore School Endowment. Geri kept the inventory for the program up to date and kept the bookkeeping records. “She just was one if you needed help you can count on Geri to help,” Ellis said. “She just would offer to do anything, whether it was cut Campbell’s soup labels, milk Moola lids or Box Tops for Education. “She did everything with a smile on her face and always a positive atti- A special salute for a friend named Geri Murtaugh

Geri Murtaugh Tribune

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