Former state senator Mary-Jane McMurdo, 88, died Saturday at Kahala Nui in Honolulu, according to her family.
McMurdo is credited for the campaign that led to the adoption in 1982 of a significant amendment to the Honolulu charter that gave people the right to pass ordinances by initiative.
She then successfully led an initiative that gained voter approval in 1984 to save moderate-income housing in the Date-Laau area.
McMurdo was also one of the leaders of the Save Sandy Beach Initiative that stopped development of this east Oahu coastline in 1988. That area is now forever protected as Ka Iwi State Park.
She also worked to preserve Fort DeRussy as open space and championed efforts to restore and protect the Waikiki Natatorium, the World War I monument that had fallen into serious disrepair.
McMurdo was one of a handful of women in the Hawaii State Legislature serving from 1984 through 1996 and she championed rights for women that people take for granted today, including mandated insurance coverage for mammograms and the right of a wife to sign a contract without first obtaining her husband’s written approval. She also authored the first ozone preservation law in the United States that outlawed the use of cholorflourocarbons, or CFCs.
McMurdo got her start in politics late in life after spending the majority of her life supporting the Army career of her late husband, Col. Strathmore K. McMurdo, and raising her four children. She was already 58 years old when she was elected chair of the McCully-Moiliili Neighborhood Board and 60 by the time she ran for senator.
McMurdo was preceded in death by her husband Strathmore "Mick" McMurdo and son Joseph. She is survived by daughter, Dahlis Day; sons, Keith and Michael; grandchildren, Karen, Michael, Kirsten and Connor; nephews Rick and Mike Marshall, and Bernie Booth; daughters-in-law, Kerrianne and Theresia.
Memorial services will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 1, at the Hawaii Yacht Club, 1739 Ala Moana Park Drive, followed by the scattering of ashes at sea. Parking valet service will be available. Donations may be made to the American Cancer Society.