Thomas Jerald Murdock

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Thomas Jerald Murdock

January 15, 1970 - November 02, 2018

Thomas Jerald Murdock Thomas Jerald Murdock, cofounder of Moodlerooms and gifted high school English teacher, died of a heart attack Nov. 2, 2018 while on a business trip in Colorado. He was 48.
Mr. Murdock was a talented poet and musician; he loved hiking and traveling on little known back roads, where he did not mind getting lost; he loved the lakes and rivers of northern Michigan, as well as the lyrics of Greg Brown and Bob Dylan. Mr. Murdock strongly disliked Donald Trump, most vegetables and breathy flute music. He liked his mother, Carol Murdock's beef and noodles, pasties and Traveling Cake. Tom lived in many places: on beaches, in forests, under stars and in daydreams beside fast rivers.
Murdock adored the writing of Jim Harrison, traveled to Australia and India and took his wife and daughter on a number of adventures: in the dune shacks of Cape Cod, on the Appalachian Trail and in the crypts of London.
He inspired high school students for more than a decade at Cranbrook Schools in Bloomfield Hills and at St. Paul's School in Baltimore, Maryland, where he believed in exploring literature by asking questions to which there were no clear answers. He piloted the online platform Moodle in his high school classroom and helped its Australian creator, Martin Dougiamas, establish Moodle at universities around the world.
Tom sketched tiny homes in all his notebooks and spent six years living in a cabin on top of North Mountain in West Virginia, where a bear once ate the front seat of his car and carried his mail into a dense forest; he was friendly with several mountain goats that wintered in a cave. Tom was once visited by the secret service in his dorm room at Princeton University and he was known and loved by many contemporary American poets, including Alan Dugan, Thomas Lux and Gerald Stern. His final poetry thesis at Princeton University won him a pair of A-pluses and his love letters to his wife, the poet Faith Shearin, are easily the best writing she has ever read.
Tom, his wife and daughter were the owners of a number of beloved pets: a distinguished hamster named Professor, who devoured a wall, and another, Velma, who ate a dictionary. They owned two dogs: a pointy dachshund and a shih-tzu with an underbite, as well as a rose hair tarantula, two hermit crabs and a pair of very attractive betta fish.
Tom taught his Google Home to identify his personal president as Barack Obama; he was strongly influenced by his father, Jerald W. Murdock, a math teacher and textbook author who gave him an early Apple computer and believed in games, curiosity and life-long learning. Tom played cello, banjo and guitar and enjoyed studying music with his sisters, Kate Olson and Elizabeth Walsh, at Interlochen's Summer Camp and Academy.
Tom is survived by his daughter, Mavis Murdock, who studies classics and computer science at Mount Holyoke College; his wife, Faith Shearin; his mother, Carol; his sisters, Kate and Libby; his brother-in-law, Rocky Olson; and his nieces, Claire and Sydney Walsh.
He was preceded in death by his father, Jerald Murdock; grandparents, William and Myrth Murdock and Elwyn and Elaine Johnson.
A cross between an old fashioned Irish wake and a memorial service will be held for Thomas Murdock at the Interlochen Arts Academy Chapel on Saturday, Nov. 24, at 1 p.m. Tom's favorite poetry will be read, his favorite music played and his favorite foods served. Attendees are advised to bring their dancing shoes.
In lieu of flowers, his family encourages you to take time to read, encourage an artist and reach out to a friend today.
Published on November 17, 2018
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