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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30 posts

Heather Shadron
Dec 07, 2018
Sending love and light to Faith, Mavis and the Murdock family.
John Marinacci
Nov 24, 2018
Tom always knew the exactly right question to ask- the sign of a truly great teacher. What a warm, authentic man. We are worse without him. He will be missed. I am sorry for your loss.
Selene Carter
Nov 23, 2018
Tom's memory is a blessing. Sending my love to Faith, Mavis, Mrs. Murdock, Libby, Kate and all who gather to celebrate his life. Utterly stunned with gratitude that I was able to share my high school years with Tom. We were seeded similarly and it hurts so much to lose him at this stage in our flourishing. With you all at the IAA chapel in spirit.
Alex Pehling (Wheat)
Nov 23, 2018
I am so sorry to hear of Tom's passing. Although I have not known him since high school at IAA, I remember his gifted writing and always admired him as an artist and fellow traveler. I have known loss and grief in life, though, and so my heart goes out to his beloved family and friends who will have to find a way to move forward in life honoring, loving and communing with the place that he
once inhabited bodily in their midst. It seems like his Irish Wake is a great first step, and you will be in prayers as you take the next, the following, and the first of many steps to come that will keep his love and memory alive in all our hearts. Blessings to you all and my deep condolences.
John Metevia
Nov 23, 2018
Wanted to share my condolences to the Murdock family. Death is truly an enemy and robs us of our loved ones. 1Cor. 15:26
Winnie Davies-Hancock
Nov 22, 2018
Oh, I am so sorry to hear of Tom’s death.
David Watson
Nov 22, 2018
Dear Faith, Kate, Mavis, and family,
I doubt I can make it there to be with you Saturday but you are on my mind, as is my young/old friend, Tom. He was sweet, funny, brilliant, kind, generous, humble. It was a joy to know him and to work with him. I missed having him around after he left Cranbrook, but we stayed in touch a few times, and I was always grateful to know he was out there. I miss him now and will think of ways to keep him with me still. Much love to you and to all who were so lucky to know him.
Claudia Schuette
Nov 20, 2018
I am fortunate to have known Tom as a colleague during his time at Cranbrook. He was a teacher's teacher, always on the cutting edge, yet exuding warmth and kindness that drew people to him. I'll always remember his easy smile and friendliness. The world was a better place with Tom in it. My condolences to his family.
Margie Guerra
Nov 20, 2018
I had Tom as an English teacher at Cranbrook. He is one of the most passionate, inspiring people I have ever met -- I'm so incredibly sad to learn of his passing. Deepest condolences to his family.
Monni Must
Nov 20, 2018
Honoring Tom and our Cranbrook community. Love Tom’s unique persona that was appreciated and nourished at Cranbrook.
Mark Shanley
Nov 20, 2018
Vaya con Dios.
Justin Robertson
Nov 20, 2018
Tom and his father were two of the first people I met at Interlochen. They showed me around campus during my initial visit when I was 14 and helped me come to the decision to attend, a decision that changed my life for the better and I am so grateful. Tom has been my friend for over 30 years now. I know that as a friend, an educator, a father, a husband, a brother, a son, that Tom changed many lives for the better. Thank you Tom, well done!
Serena A. Williams
Nov 19, 2018
This has been the most devastating news and my heart goes out to Tom’s family: his mother Carol, who I remember well from my days at IAA, his sisters Kate and Libby and his beloved wife Faith who is one one my oldest friends from Interlochen as well as Hampshire College. I want to extend my condolences especially to Tom and Faith’s daughter Mavis, though I haven’t had the opportunity to meet her yet. I hope she knows that her father was loved by everyone who crossed his path in youth and beyond.

I am also sincerely sorry for everyone who was privileged to have known Tom in any capacity -as a friend, instructor and mentor. He was a shining spirit in a bright, starry sky and his in
...fluential and grace remains infinite.Read more
Magan Crutcher
Nov 19, 2018
I am so sorry to hear about Tom's passing. He was an AMAZING teacher. Honestly, one of the best. My condolences to everyone affected by this lost. Tom truly will be missed but always remembered. Super sad.
Christine Smith
Nov 19, 2018
I’m so very sorry to hear that Tom has passed away. I haven’t seen him since h.s. graduation, and am so happy to see his life was full of love and adventure, and the many souls he’s blessed during his time with us. Rest In Peace, and much love to the family.
Jonathan Plotkin
Nov 19, 2018
Why is it that the very best are usually the ones to go too soon. A significant loss to the Interlochen family. My thoughts and prayers are with Tom’s family.
Angie Kim
Nov 19, 2018
Tom and I were at Interlochen together. And although I haven't seen him since high school, I was so happy to reconnect with him through social media and deeply saddened to hear about his altogether-too-early passing. My thoughts and prayers are with Faith, Mavis, and his whole family. Rest in peace, Tom.
Alexis Wolf
Nov 19, 2018
I am so sorry to hear about Mr. Murdock’s passing. I will always remember him as one of my favorite teachers at Cranbrook and the first to see my writing potential and to challenge me to reach that potential. May he Rest In Peace.
Robin Webster
Nov 19, 2018
Tom was a pleasure to be around. As a teachers his students adored him, as a faculty member his peers respected him and me....I will always remember his gentle manner and that wonderful smile. Hugs to Faith and Mavis
M Joe Smith
Nov 19, 2018
Tom was one of the first people I met when I arrived at Cranbrook. I always enjoyed my time with Tom, he was indeed a lovely special person. Tom's calming nature was nurtured by students and faculty alike. Each moment is special, never miss a moment to tell someone you love them, we may never get that chance again. Peace my friend.
Georgie Holst
Nov 19, 2018
Tom was a brilliant, lovely and gracious man. He regaled anyone he met with fascinating stories, a great sense of humour and was a source of encouragement and support to all who he knew. His love for his family always lit up his face. I will miss him - always. My love and deepest condolences to Faith, Mavis, Carol, Libby and Katie, all his family and friends who loved him.
Kana Takahashi
Nov 18, 2018
I am deeply saddened by Tom's sudden death. I hadn't seen Tom since high school graduation. However, I so enjoyed 'reuniting' with him online and getting to know him all over again, especially seeing the love he had for his family. He is a rare breed with a clear mind and a kind soul. His absence is felt beyond measure. My deepest sympathy for Faith and Mavis. Without a doubt, you two were his guiding light and why he thrived in this brief but full life.
Heather McAreavy
Nov 18, 2018
I didn’t know him; but, after reading his obituary, I wish I had. I think I missed out! It’s obvious he is gone too soon but it certainly sounds like his was a life WELL lived.... every. little. moment.
Sincere sympathy for your loss.
Bob & Carol DeWitt (Kate's sister & brother-in-law)
Nov 18, 2018
So sorry for your loss. May God give you peace & comfort in the days ahead.
Will McClintock
Nov 18, 2018
I idolized Tom. Smart, kind, creative, interested, well read, liberal, a naturalist. He occupies a special place in my psyche. He had a profound impact on my life.