Peace Corps Press Release:
WASHINGTON, D.C., September 11, 2008 – U.S. Peace Corps Director Ron Tschetter is saddened to announce the death by natural causes of U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer Bertie Lee Murphy, 71, who was found in her home in Belize on Tuesday, September 9, 2008.
“Our entire Peace Corps family is saddened by the loss of such a devoted and energetic Volunteer who made a lasting impact on the lives of the Belizean people,” said Director Tschetter. “Our thoughts and prayers are with Bertie’s friends and family during this very difficult time.”
Bertie was a vivacious and dedicated member of the Peace Corps family and served with distinction as an Education Volunteer in Belize where she was an elementary education teacher-trainer in the southern village of Hopkins. Universally loved and respected, Bertie had recently repurposed a local building into a library filled with personal and donated books. She became a Peace Corps Volunteer in June 2007, following a distinguished career in both the corporate world and in public service.
In her aspiration statement, Bertie wrote, “My expectations when applying to serve in the Peace Corps were simple: to use my skills in teaching and management together with my love of learning as aptly as possible.”
Bertie’s most recent employer was a consulting firm in Virginia where she worked since 2001. Prior to that, Bertie worked for companies and institutions such as: Research Dynamics, Inc., Catholic University in D.C., Colorado State College in Greeley, Colo. and Britannica Press in Chicago. Prior to the Peace Corps, Bertie had been living in Virginia with her grown daughter. Bertie was a graduate of Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas and had a master’s degree from the University of Texas at Austin.
Bertie was a thoughtful woman who enjoyed reading, writing and nature. She wrote that she: “relishes watching the sunrises from her kitchen window and the sunsets from her deck.” She loved to photograph nature, bird watch and work in her garden.
Bertie was also active in her community in Virginia and served on a Board of Directors of a local wildlife conservancy and was chairperson of the outreach committee. Bertie was a member of TESOL (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages), and she served on a local literacy council for four years and as a volunteer ESL tutor and classroom teacher.
The first group of Volunteers arrived in Belize in 1962 and Peace Corps has been operating continually since then. More than 1,600 Volunteers have worked in Belize in a variety of projects focused on health, the environment, education, small business development and youth services. Currently, there are 74 Volunteers in Belize.
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