Cover photo for Cornelia C. Murray's Obituary
Cornelia C. Murray Profile Photo

Cornelia C. Murray

July 27, 1924 – August 17, 2022


Friday, August 26, 2022

Public Viewing: 2:00 P.M. – 5:00 P.M.

Family Visitation: 5:00 P.M. – 7:00 P.M.

Held at

Nelson & Sons Chapel Murfreesboro

448 East Burton Street

Murfreesboro, Tennessee


Saturday, August 27, 2022

Family Visitation: 1:00 P.M.

Funeral Service: 2:00 P.M.

Held at

Cherry Grove M.B. Church

4078 Yeargan Road

Murfreesboro, Tennessee



Monday, August 29, 2022

10:00 A.M.

Nashville National Cemetery

1420 Gallatin Pike South

Nashville, Tennessee

Cornelia (also known in the Murray family as “Nee Baby”, “Aunt Nee” or “Moma Nee”) was born on 27 July 1924 on the Hockett Farm between what was Eagleville/Rockvale, Tennessee & is now Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Remnants of this farm are located directly behind Preston Scales Elementary School today. Her mother was the late Mary Josephine Batten Murray (1909-1941) and her father was Sam Kelley Avent (1886-1964). Mary Josephine (“Josie”) married the late Paul Lee Murray (1903-1979), a tenant farmer, aka “Josie” in family circles was the proud mother of six children with Cornelia being her first born.  The succeeding sisters and brother are, Maggie Lou Murray Johnson (1933-2021), Mary Evelynn Murray Kelley (1935-2016), Paul Lee Murray, Jr. (1937-2009) his twin sister Pauline Murray Sanford Staton (1937-2000) and Esther Louise Murray (1939-2021)

A child of the Great American Depression Cornelia’s life could be described like the symbols on the Murray family crest.  Her early life was a struggle; it was akin to having a Shepard’s staff in one hand and a African spear in the other. An example of the Shepard’s staff is that at age seven, Cornelia accepted Christ as her personal Savior right here at Cherry Grove Missionary Baptist Church. She was baptized in the outside concrete baptismal pool by her eventual father-in-law, the late Rev. Andrew Felix Murray (1892-1972). She served decades as a Senior Usher and Mother at Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church, Smyrna, Tennessee. Cornelia was the faithful 1st Lady and Pastor’s wife at Macedonia Baptist Church, Auburn, Kentucky.

An example of holding an African spear in the other hand played out as a young schoolgirl.

Many days, as a young girl walking home from school, the segregated student school bus would pass by and the kids would throw rocks out of the bus window at the poorer kids like Cornelia. They yelled slurs and made fun of her and her friends who were lucky if they had a good pair of shoes to walk the many miles back and forth from the one room schoolhouse in Eagleville.  After being hit by a rock the previous day, Cornelia made up in her mind that she would not take it anymore and fight back.  When the segregated student school bus came by the next time, she was ready with her own rocks and hit one of the boys hanging out the window chiding.  Unfortunately, it was the son of the owner of the farm where her family was tenant farming. As result Cornelia was sent to live with Aunt Elsa Mae Batten Jackson in Stones River Cemetery Community south of Murfreesboro on the Old Nashville Highway.

Her aunt (aka Big Mama) was a widow with five children of her own, but she opened up her home and helped raise Cornelia the rest of the way to adulthood. Cornelia’s first job was at the Men’s Clothes Store canned A.L. Coleman on ”the Square”, in Nashville, Tennessee. She got this job because her Cousins Laura Jackson & Will Ella Batten who were already employed at Coleman’s helped her get hired there too.

After moving in with her aunt’s family, Cornelia’s mother Josephine died in 1941.  She was buried in Cherry Grove Missionary Baptist Church where most the Battens, Murrays and Jackson’s were members of Cherry Grove. Mary Josephine Batten Murray’s grave lies just outside this church’s doors east of Jeff Turner‘s grave & just west of the Lillard family plot under a half century growth of purple Iris. We mentioned before that one of the former pastors of Cherry Grove was Rev. Andrew F. Murray.  It was during this time that she first met the Pastor’s son, her eventual soul mate, and husband Rev. Joseph Winfield Murray, Sr. (1926-1980). They were married upon Joe’s return from WWII service in the US Army on 27 July 1947.  The nuptials took place in the living room of the old Murray Rock Farm House located at what is now 101 Murray Lane Lavergne, Tennessee and were officiated by the groom’s father. Joe worked with his father in the family rock quarry/masonry business and he and Cornelia lived upstairs in the old Murray Rock Farm House until they were able to build their own home across the street  at 106 Murray Lane in 1958.  Always a hard working woman she had many jobs in her life from seamstress at A.L. Coleman Men’s Clothing Company, Nashville, later as a factory steam pressor at White Stag Textiles, Murfreesboro, and finally retiring  after over 20 years work as a Laboratory Technician at Vanderbilt Research Medical Facility in Nashville. 

The sharecropper’s daughter did well and achieved much.  But Cornelia C. Murray greatest achievements were & are being a loving Mother & being a generous Aunt who would not only share her food and hearth with you but her time and love as if she was your mom too.  Cornelia was dutiful older sister who helped her younger sisters to adulthood after the early passing of their mother.  A wonderful pastor’s wife; just ask the folks of Macedonia Baptist Church, Auburn, Kentucky. A loving, strong and steadfast wife of 33 years and a “superwoman” of a mother to two sons: Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Winfield Murray, II (1956-) with wife Janice of Merritt Island, Florida and Mr. Orrin Craig Murray (1958-) of LaVergne, TN. She has five grandchildren: Monique Murray (1980-) with her husband Mr. Michael Butler; US Army Chaplain (Major) Janell Angeline Murray Myhren (1987-) with her husband US Army Major Benjamin Myhren, Grandsons US Army Major Joseph Winfield Murray III (1989-) with his wife Jennifer, Mr. James Andrew Murray (1994-) of Tallahassee, Florida and Mr. Darran Mosley of Bloomington Indiana.  Cornelia is blessed with six Great-grandchildren: Jaylan James, Lyric James, Torrie James, Cora Nee Myhren, Jazzia Rose Murray & Estell May Myhren. Finally, but not least, she has a host Nieces, Nephews, Cousins, extended family and friends.

God has favored Cornelia to see her 98th birthday last month.  During these last few years, she was the eldest matriarch of the Murray family; an example of strong Christian Womanhood; & an example of unselfish love and faithfulness that we all can admire and emulate in our lives.

Note from the biographers:

“Mom, We Love You.”; Joey & Craig.  “The Struggle is over, you can lay down that old African spear, cross over the River Jordan and sit down under the shade of the Tree of Life forever.  Rest and be at peace.” The victory is won!

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