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December 26, 1935 ~ November 28, 2017 (age 81)

Doris Virden Murphy died November 28, 2017 at her New Orleans residence. Beloved wife of James Murphy, Emeritus Professor at Tulane’s Freeman School of Business. Mother of Charles Merdinger (Peggy Ann) of Shelton, CT and three grandchildren, Christopher, Alexander and Georgia. Sister-in-law of Alice and Martha Virden, and also survived by nieces and nephews. Sister of the late Huron, Peter and George Lynn Virden. Mrs. Murphy was born in Greenville, MS on December 26, 1935 to the late Huron and Doris Metcalfe Virden. She started studying dance in Memphis, TN and completed high school at Sullins Junior College, Bristol, VA. Her teacher, Madame Besa Sklarsky encouraged her to apply to Sadler’s Wells Ballet School in London, where she studied for two years, and also studied privately with an influential teacher, Audrey DeVos. She was encouraged to widen her dance interests by another teacher, Drid Williams. Upon returning to the US, she studied with Robert Joffrey in New York and performed with his group when he was organizing his company. Her broad interests turned to modern dance, where she studied and performed with Charles Weidman’s Company for several years. She was in the inaugural performances of his acclaimed Christmas Oratorio in 1961. In 1963, Weidman set dance to Honnegar’s King David, in which she performed not only the role of the young David, but the Witch of Endor. The reviewer concluded by saying that in the original and truest sense of the word, Dot Virden is a star dancer. Throughout her life she was always known as Dot. After New York and the Weidman experience she taught at Gulf Park College, but Camille brought her to New Orleans, where she immediately connected with the dance community. She formed the New World Dance Company to give workshops in the city. She sponsored Mr. Weidman for a workshop and included parts of the Christmas Oratorio in a performance at the Civic Theatre which also included ethnic dance and the talent of Teresa Torkanowsky. She worked with the Newcomb dance faculty and set the Brahms Waltzes for a performance. She had performed that work in New York with the Weidman Company. She participated in the Arts in Education in the public schools fostered by Shirley Trusty Corey. In later years she emphasized personal fitness through movement and became a Tai Chi student. She started a class for seniors at the Uptown Shepherd Center. Even in the last years of her life she searched for new ways of enhancing fitness through gentle movement by studying the Alexander Technique. A Memorial service will be held at St. George’s Episcopal Church, 4600 St. Charles Avenue, New Orleans, LA, 70115 on Saturday, December 2, 2017 at 11:00 am with visitation beginning at 10:00 am. Information 504-835-2341. Condolences may be expressed online at In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to St. George’s Episcopal Church, Newcomb Dance or the charity of your choice. THARP-SONTHEIMER-THARP Funeral Home of Metairie is handling arrangements.

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