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Powell, WY

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Darla Verlee Millspaugh Murray

(Feb. 11, 1920 - Sept. 17, 2012)

Darla Murray died peacefully at home with her family on Monday, Sept. 17, 2012. She was 92.

She was born in a farmhouse near the Mississippi River near Wapello, Iowa to parents Peter Harvey Millspaugh and Cassie Arvilla Dawson Millspaugh. The doctor had to come to their house through the mud in his buggy. Her mother said she was a roly-poly baby, weighing 11 pounds at birth.

Darla attended a country school, graduating from Mt. Pleasant High School in 1937 at age 17. She then earned a two-year teaching certificate from Iowa Wesleyan College. Her uncle, John Dawson, sent her a train ticket to visit him in Powell. She fell in love with Wyoming, especially the little school at Wapiti, and upon returning home, applied to teach here. She received a telegram immediately, telling her she was hired to teach fifth grade in Powell for the 1939-40 school year. 

After teaching for two years, Darla married Bruce Murray, an ambitious young farmer on the Willwood, on Aug. 7, 1941. She had to give up her teaching job because at that time, married women were not allowed to teach in the Powell school system. 

Bruce and Darla started married life in a tiny two-room homestead house on their Willwood Murraymere Farms, then built their beautiful home where they lived the rest of their lives. Their son Keith was born in 1942 and daughter Linda in 1946. An infant son born in 1948 died 24 hours after birth.

Bruce and Darla were married for 65 years.

Darla was a loving, supportive wife and mother, never missing a concert, county fair, or other 4-H or FFA activity in which her children were involved. Having lived through the Depression, she was very thrifty her entire life, growing a huge garden and canning and freezing thousands of quarts of produce, and sewing many of her family’s own clothes as well as all of the canvas irrigation dams for the farm. 

Some of Keith and Linda’s happiest memories are of family rock hunting trips and camp outs with the rock club all over the Big Horn and Pryor mountains and southern Montana. She loved animals, tenderly nursing many baby lambs and kittens back to health.

Darla was a long-time member of Willwood Women’s Club, Shoshone Rock Club, Union Presbyterian Church and was a 4-H leader and 4-H Clothing Superintendent at the Park County Fair for many years. Darla was the last surviving Willwood Homesteader.

She was a fun, quick witted grandmother, who will dearly be missed.

Darla was preceded in death by her husband, Bruce Murray; her infant son; parents Peter and Cassie Millspaugh; brothers Ledru and Dick Millspaugh; and sister Clista Millspaugh McElhinney.

She is survived by her son Keith (Rita) Murray; daughter Linda Murray; grandchildren Bryon (Veesha) Murray, Valerie Murray, Kenton (Sherri) Murray and Tiffany (Allan) Darwich; and five great-grandchildren.

A public viewing will be held at 9 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 22 at Thompson Funeral Home with a funeral service at 10 a.m. at Union Presbyterian Church in Powell. Burial will follow at Crown Hill Cemetery.

Memorials may be made to Powell Valley Hospice.

Thompson Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements. Condolences can be sent to the family online at or to P.O. Box 807 Powell, WY 82435.

1 comment

  • posted by June Bato

    September 21, 2012 12:37 pm

    Dear Linda, Keith, Rita and family, I am so sorry to read about your mother's death. She was such a lovely woman, kind, cheerful, giving. I admire you all for taking such good care of her.

    I enjoyed the obituary story of her life. I know you will miss her a lot! It is so hard to let a parent go and thank God she knew she would be in heaven with Bruce, her other child and other family and friends.

    I will always think of your family with fondness. You have my heart and prayers.

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