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Former state lawmaker Mary-Jane McMurdo dies


Mary-Jane McMurdo, a former state lawmaker who led the fight to save moderate-income housing in the Date-Laau area and also was a champion of the movement to save Sandy Beach, has died. 

She was 88.

McMurdo died Saturday at Kahala Nui retirement community, said her daughter-in-law, Theresia McMurdo.

Mary-Jane McMurdo came to politics later in life, winning her first race to the McCully-Moiliili Neighborhood Board in 1982, at age 58.

Two years later she was elected to the state Senate, where she served until 1992, before later finishing her time in politics with a term in the state House from 1994 to 1996. She represented the Waikiki district.

She was among a small group of women in the Legislature at the time and championed rights for women including mandated insurance coverage for mammograms and the right of a wife to sign a contract without first obtaining her husband’s written approval, her daughter-in-law said.  She also authored the first ozone preservation law in the United States that outlawed the use of chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs.

“She once told me that the reason she decided to run for office was because she did not like how the Legislature treated ordinary people like her who came to testify on different issues,” Theresia McMurdo said. “She definitely worked toward giving more power to the people.”

Prior to running for office, McMurdo supported the millitary career of her husband, Col. Strathmore Keith “Mick” McMurdo, who died in 2006, and raised their four children. She is survived by daughter, Dahlis Day; sons, Keith and Michael; daughters-in-law Kerrianne and Theresia and four grandchildren.  

Memorial services are scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 1, at the Hawaii Yacht Club, followed by the scattering of ashes at sea. Donations may be made to the American Cancer Society.

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