Founder of Sojourner Truth Eulogized
Daisy Emma Jean White Murray, age 104, amazed not only her family and friends with her tenacity, longevity and love of life but inspired others by her dedication to community service and leadership. Born April 11, 1918, her family was only a few generations removed from slavery as her grandmother was the daughter of an enslaved person. Despite facing ingrained racism, Daisy lived life to its fullest, transitioning from this earth on April 20, 2022 and leaving behind a rich legacy of good works, including helping establish California’s first affordable housing community to be owned and built by minority women. She was eulogized May 5 with a celebration of life service at her beloved Bethel Missionary Baptist Church in Oakland, CA.
Daisy grew up in Ohio where her family relocated to escape the racism and violence of the south. During high school, she and her sisters sang as members of The White Sisters Quartet at local churches where their father preached. They often practiced with The Mills Brothers. When a radio manager suggested shifting their music from gospel to jazz, their father ended the sisters’ radio career but they continued to sing in local churches.
Shortly after graduating from high school, Daisy married her husband and in 1944 they moved with their children to California, settling in the East Bay. She attended Contra Costa Junior College and Chabot College where she graduated as a Licensed Vocational Nurse. Daisy worked a number of volunteer and paid positions, including the U.S. Post Office, the American Red Cross, the Del Monte Cannery, the old Richmond Hospital, and the Veteran’s Hospital in Oakland where she became a nurse.
Daisy devoted much of her time to civic organizations including the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), National Council of Negro Women, Business and Professional Women’s Association, and as a literacy teacher for the San Leandro public library.
As a founding member of the Negro Business and Professional Women – East Bay Area Chapter, Daisy and other affordable housing visionaries acquired a HUD grant to establish California’s first affordable residency for seniors owned and built by minority women. Completed in 1974, Sojourner Truth Manor is still managed today by CCH and has housed generations of seniors. An early member of its board, Daisy stepped away for a time but returned in 2007 to oversee renovations to the property well into her nineties.
CCH President and CEO Syd Najeeb commended Daisy’s dedication. “She lived an amazing life of service and enriched the lives of hundreds of seniors through the operations of Sojourner Truth Manor,” he said. “We are grateful for her many contributions.”
On the occasion of her 104th birthday, U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee of the 13th Congressional District of California spoke of Daisy’s many accomplishments and wished her the happiest of birthdays. “Thank you, Mrs. Murray, for your many good works and everything you have done to enrich San Leandro and our entire East Bay community,” she said.
People often marveled at Daisy’s long functionality, even as a centenarian. She passed her driver’s test and drove herself around town well into her nineties and could read emails without eyeglasses. She encouraged others to embrace new technologies and video conferencing. Asked her secret to living a long life so well, Daisy answered it was all by the grace of God. She was a woman of faith and prayer who loved the Lord and did her best to live for Him.