January 17, 2008

Mary Helen Goodloe-Murphy is honored for her contributions to the community


Mary Helen Goodloe-Murphy was born on Nov. 8, 1945, in Nashville, Tenn., to Hallum Wood Goodloe, Jr. and Mary Helen Rue Goodloe.  She has one brother, Hallum Wood Goodloe III.

When she was in third grade, her family moved to Decatur, Ga.  There, she attended Decatur High School, where she played women’s basketball.  After high school, she attended Agnes Scott College, an all-women’s private school located in town.

It was in Decatur that she began working for her community.  In high school and college, she was involved in a Civic Children’s Theatre as a director.  She says her experiences at the all-women’s Agnes Scott prepared her for many of the occupations she would hold later.  She was able to get a lot of leadership positions in different student organizations, an opportunity she says she may have missed had she gone to a co-ed university.  She also was very involved in intramural sports.

She graduated from Agnes Scott College with a bachelor of arts in history and political science.  After that, she went back to teach for two years at her old high school.

She tells about being asked to design and teach a social studies class for students who still needed a few credits to graduate.  The course, Government and Daily Living Issues, was made up of students who weren’t always acknowledged for their achievements in school.  They weren’t athletes, they weren’t musicians, and they weren’t at the top of their class.

This made Mary Helen all the more determined to help them succeed and give them a sense of pride in themselves.  Under her guidance, the students designed, scripted, and performed a mock trial as part of the classwork.

She says that the moment she knew that this class was worth the work was when the school newspaper came to take pictures of the mock trial.  For these students, it was the first time they had been acknowledged, the first time their accomplishments were recognized.  The pride they showed at having their picture taken made such an impact on her, and it has never left her.

After teaching for two years, Mary Helen went to graduate school at Georgia State University and then at The American University in Washington, D.C.  She received her master’s degree in public administration in urban affairs in 1971.

On July 9, 1972, she married Thomas Murphy in Washington, D.C.  He had four children of his own: Betsy, Kathy, Pat, and Andy.  That year, she and her family began vacationing on Hatteras Island.  She also began her subscription to the Coastland Times during these years.

She was a member of her neighborhood community association in Dupont Circle in Washington, helping organize efforts to save and preserve the historic sites within the neighborhood.  Mary Helen was an integral part of the printing and distribution of multiple publications that dealt with zoning laws and the protection of her neighborhood.

Mary Helen and Tom moved to Rodanthe in 1986, where they had owned property since 1983.  At the time, there was only a trailer on the property.  They had built a small house, which would eventually become their shed and office area, to stay in.

Mary Helen has held a wide array of jobs in her eventful life.  Her first jobs on Hatteras Island planted the seeds for future community involvement.  She read electric meters in Salvo, Waves, and Rodanthe for three years alongside Barbara Shimpach.  She also cleaned for Cape Escape Realty and the KOA Kampground.

Shortly after moving into town, she and Tom witnessed the Chicamacomico Banks Volunteer Fire Department in action at a fire not far from their new home.  That night, they decided to join the fire department the following Monday.

From 1986 to 1996, they were active members of the department.  She served as a board member and secretary during her time there.

Mary Helen talks with pride about the founding of the Rodanthe Thrift Shop.  She says that she had begun volunteering in Hotline’s Manteo thrift store shortly after moving to Rodanthe.  When she learned about the large fees that Hotline was paying to make their services available to Hatteras Island, she knew something had to be done.

So she set to work establishing Hotline’s very first satellite thrift store, which is now located Rodanthe.  On land generously donated by Chicamacomico Banks Volunteer Fire Department, the thrift store opened in 1987.  It has been proudly serving our community ever since.  Funds from the store go to benefit both Hotline and the fire department.

Mary Helen’s involvement in this community in the past 20 years goes far above and beyond what some people do in a lifetime.  From 1990 to 2003, when Tom served as pastor of the new Roanoke Island Presbyterian Church, she conducted Christian Education classes there, enjoying every moment she spent enriching the lives of children.

Mary Helen was a powerful force in starting the community recycling program in 1992.  She has also been active in the Rodanthe-Waves-Salvo Civic Association since 1999.  She has served as both board member and president of the organization, always showing a desire to improve, enrich, and preserve the beautiful community we live in.  Currently, she is the chairperson of the Outer Banks Scenic Byway Committee for Dare County, a position to which she was appoint by the Dare County Board of Commissioners.

In 1990, Mike Boeher, who had provided pictures of life on Hatteras Island to The Coastland Times as the Hatteras Island Correspondent, moved to the mountains.  Though she had no formal journalism experience, Mike told Mary Helen, “You’ve gotta go apply for this job.”  So she did.

She began working for The Coastland Times that year, the year the barge hit the Oregon Inlet Bridge.  At one point, she took two years off to cover Cape Hatteras schools, working during this time at Island Produce and Jobob’s.  She returned to her job at The Coastland Times and now covers Hatteras Island, District Criminal Court, and the Dare County Board of Commissioners.

Mary Helen loves her job.  It’s thrilling to go places, meet people, and learn new things every day as part of her living.  It’s a cool job, she says.

Drawing on the memory of the students she taught in Decatur and how proud they were that the student paper ran their pictures, Mary Helen shows a devotion to our children that goes beyond the call of duty of most news correspondents.  She is dedicated to making sure they get their pictures in the paper as often as possible.  Having seen the pride and the thrill a student gets from being recognized, Mary Helen is determined to give that great feeling to as many children as possible.

She faithfully attends sporting events, academic ceremonies, assemblies, and special events of every nature to make sure that our students are given the acknowledgement they deserve.

When asked how she feels about living in a small, tight-knit community like ours, she says it is an incredible gift.  She feels so fortunate to live in a place that gives her such a sense of awe.  Hatteras Island is an amazing, beautiful, wild place to live, she says.  It fascinates her to look back over how the community has changed and grown in the past 20 years.  

She enjoys how comfortable she feels in this community.  There is plenty of opportunity for solitude, just as there are plenty of ways to meet people and participate in the life of the community.
She says living here has slowed her down, caused her to look around her and appreciate the little miracles that happen every day.  She enjoys having time to watch the sunrise, having quiet moments to hear the birds sing.  It is stress relieving and calming to be able to listen to the natural orchestra that God has provided for us—the ocean, the sound, the wind.

Most of all, she says, she feels blessed to live in a place full of such incredibly gracious men and women.  From the Civic Association board members to the volunteer firefighters to the teachers and parents and churchgoers who make our community such a colorful and wonderful place to be, Mary Helen says she feels blessed to know and love us.

As far as what impact Mary Helen feels she has had on our community, she hopes that the articles she has written about organizations that are dedicated to giving back may add up over time to make a difference.  By itself, she says, the impact of one article is probably insignificant.  But over time, Mary Helen hopes she has had some effect on our community, however great or small.

Mary Helen, we are all here today to tell you what an amazing impact you have on us.  I think we all agree.  Without you, our community would not be the same.  Thank you so much for all you have done, for all you are doing, and for all you will do.  We are so blessed to know you.


I've enjoyed sitting with Mary Helen in District Court for several years.  She always has a smile and a warm hug for me.  When I'm all down and out, she lifts me up.  We've had great discussions about families, politics, court issues, schools and the list goes on.  She's also my "sleeping" courtroom lady.  Mary Helen, the respect I have for you cannot not be measured in words.  I love you and congratulations for receiving the award.  Also thanks most of all for being my friend.

Bertie K. Midgett,   "The Courtroom Wake Her UP Person"

Let no good deed go unreported.

She’s everywhere, she’s everywhere: cleaning up the recycle point (of which she was the prime motivator); at the fire department, checking out the latest rescue/fire; at the high school ball games; at the council meetings; etc.
The Ever Ready battery never runs down, and we are a better community because of it.

Charlotte and I are far away today but we are with you in spirit.

God bless you, Mary Helen.

Charlotte and Tony Bisantz

We of the Hatteras Island Quilt Group are always glad to see Mary Helen walking around with her camera.  In addition to her great coverage of the island's news and concerns, she also gives us such good press in our efforts to create great quilts for the scholarships that benefit our deserving students.  I'm delighted to get this opportunity to express our high regard and appreciation.
Thank you.

Charlotte Rooney and close to 30 members of the Hatteras Island Quilt Group

I have known Mary ever since she came to the island.  It seems as if she had love for everyone.  She has touched my life so many times with talking together, laughing together, joking together.  What a friend -- she is always lending a helping hand.

Thanks, Mary.  And I pray that God will bless you, keep you in His loving arms forever.  I am here for you, too.

Love you much and have a very happy New Year, my dear.

Elsie Hooper

In these opening days of 2008
We gather to praise the lady so great

The good works she does come by the score
And after that she adds a few more

She’s lightened our lives with a waterfront clean
A novel idea we think is just dandy and keen

Her favorite project is a bicycle path
She’s searching for funding of astronomical math

And she’s yearning to bring us a library yet
Laden with books she is hoping to get

And the newsy newsletter she does write
Must keep her up very late at night

Only Mary Helen can do such a thing
We gather tonight her praises to sing

George and Gisele Mead

If Rodanthe-Waves-Salvo, or "Olde Chicamacomico Village" as I like to call it, had a mayor, the only possibility would be Mary Helen Goodloe-Murphy.  

In my short 15 years of residency here, I do not know anyone who has done more public service for our area. She is constantly involved in projects that have large positive impacts for our entire community, while having a busy career reporting Hatteras Island news.

From her leadership of our marvelous and well-used Community Center to the new recycling center, leading the charge to banish fireworks and countless other efforts, Mary Helen single-handedly has improved our lives.  

When she makes up her mind about something, it happens!  So I KNOW our village will soon have a great bike path!

We all appreciate what you do, Mary Helen, and no one is more deserving of this award.  

James & Linda Charlet

You, Mary Helen, have the most exuberance, knowledge, and ideas of anyone I have ever met.  You have such a big heart for our children and our communities.  I often wonder at how you find the time to do all that you do.  

I remember when I first saw you with your camera in hand at a ball game.  I wanted so much to meet you and shake your hand. From all I had heard and seen, you were a celebrity.  It was as if, by shaking your hand, I could then boast “I met Mary Helen Goodloe-Murphy!”  

Usually the famous are untouchable and stand-offish.  I found you to be just the opposite!  Your love and care show in all you do, and all who know you have indeed found someone special.  I am fortunate to be able to get to know and work side by side with you during the past few years

To me, you are our “Island Celebrity” and everyone in this county who has encountered you in their lives can stand up and say they are blessed for knowing you. They have no truer friend indeed.

Jenny Hooper

Working with you is so much fun.  Your enthusiasm for each project is contagious.   The breadth of your interests and vision is amazing.
When we agree, you listen; when we disagree, you listen.   While you never take credit, there are always praises and thanks for us worker bees.  
Our community and our island are a better place because of you.  I am a better person because of you.  

Joanne Mason

On Hat'ras there lives Mary Helen
She writes fairly about flood and felon
I cheer her for that -
For keeping on track
Because only the truth she is sellin'.
Good neighbor and friend she's turned out to be
She cares what happens to you and to me
About bridge and beach
the issues she'll teach
and ask your support for the Food Pantry.
To you, Mary Helen, I send my good cheer
I applaud you warmly in this, the new year
May God bless you always
and may joy fill your days
I pay tribute to you, a person so dear!
Linda Browning

When we think of you, Mary Helen, we think "there is a woman who is community-oriented and devoted to making people's lives happier."  

One could speak for a very long time about all of your accomplishments over the years, all of the heartwarming gifts you have given to people, all of the times you have gone "above and beyond" to help folks out.  

Mary Helen, through your actions and involvement in the community, you have been a teacher of inclusion and tolerance and finding the common ground among people.  You have truly brought meaning to the expression "Think Globally, Act Locally."

 Mary Helen, you are a role model for all of us and we are proud to be able to say that you are our friend.   

 Lucille Lamberto and Michael Egan

When I came to work at Hotline in 1987, I was told about this exceedingly energetic volunteer who drove up every week from Rodanthe.  This was a time in Hotline's history when there were very few volunteers and each one was precious.  I was really impressed that we had one who drove so far and was so faithful.

Of course, it was Mary Helen.  When we met, her enthusiasm scared me to death.  She was going a mile a minute and she had so many ideas and thoughts to share --- and that was just the beginning.  

Over the years, Mary Helen and I have talked about just about every subject under the sun, and she has talked me into partnering and undertaking projects that I never knew I wanted to do or that were even possible to do.  That includes the Rodanthe Thrift Shop and the partnership with the Chicamacomico Fire Department.

It was all her idea, of course, but she tried to make me think it was mine, too, so I could share the credit. It began with just a small corner of a shop that sold Christmas items year around, progressed to two trailers at Bob Huggett's camper lot, and then the next thing I knew, we were putting in pilings to move a donated building from Huggett's to open the current shop on the property of the Fire Department.  

Mary Helen filed every application, filled out every permit, and shook every tree to get the money for the shop so it would not cost either organization anything.  She almost succeeded.  The Rodanthe Thrift Shop, though Hotline's smallest, is all about profit and never about cost.  It's also all about the mission of people helping people in the community.  Over the years, a lot of donation dollars have come to Hotline from that shop, and it has surely been a huge help to Chicamacomico Fire Department.
Mary Helen has talked me into yearly ads for Cape Hatteras Schools.  Mary Helen also talked me into recycling.  Years ago she was making pot holder kits from discarded jeans to sell in the Rodanthe Thrift Shop --- the faint beginning of what grew into our therapeutic weaving project, Endless Possibilities, which weaves fabric for rugs, totes, and other attractive and useful items from discarded clothing donations.
When Mary Helen moved to California to care for her mother-in-law for a time, she still called me with ideas to improve Hotline's outreach to Hatteras Island. She has even shared her husband with me for lots of community projects, and her tireless research and encouragement is always part of the package.  

Predictably, she can  be found in the background and on the sidelines with her camera, her notepad, and her sharp mind sifting facts and racing ahead on how our local children and families, our small businesses, and our communities can benefit or be protected.  

Mary Helen Goodloe-Murphy is a person with a generous heart and a social conscience greater than anyone I ever knew.  If she says it is so, you can take it to the bank --- but use a recycled bag, please!
Lynn Bryant
Executive Director, Hotline

It was an honor to be invited to share in the community's recognition of Mary Helen.   Linda and I have been involved in our communities for a long time, serving events from help lines to Salvation Army Bell ringing to chairing the boards of chambers and economic growth committees and conservation organizations.  There is very little that is more rewarding for a community volunteer, after seeing the good that has be done, than to have efforts recognized by peers.

We have been around the villages since 1995 when we built our house on Colony Drive.  It was fall when we were on the island for an extended stay that we first ran into Mary Helen.  She was working behind the cash register for one of the local businesses. Though I can't remember exactly which one, I do remember that first encounter fairly well.  Mary Helen took the time to ask us where we were from, where our house was, how long we would be staying, and if we someday would be moving in permanently.  It gave us a good feeling about the community.  That was when we got our first invitation to the holiday covered dish dinners that we have enjoyed so much.

After meeting Mary Helen, it seemed that everywhere we went she popped up.  Every time we went to the old recycling center she was there, keeping things in order.  We were very interested in the bicycling path project, and when we went to our first meeting, we quickly found out that Mary Helen was right in the middle of it.  I don't think she has missed a "bridge" meeting that we attended. When we volunteered this last summer for the Parks Service Beach Ambassador program, Mary Helen showed up at the Salvo training session, camera in hand, to cover the story.

Since we were only on the island for a couple of months a year until this past year, I can't imagine how many other beneficial community projects and initiatives she has been involved in.  Our encounters must be a small fraction.  She surely deserves everyone's thanks and recognition for her efforts that have truly been to our benefit.

Mark and Linda Dingman

We are sorry to miss the tribute to Mary Helen.  She makes these three villages stand up and take notice to the rest of Dare County.  We are fortunate to have her as a neighbor and leader.  It is a pleasure to know her.

My hat is off to you, Mary Helen.  Thank you so much for being the wonderful woman you are.  Happy New Year.

Mary Ann and Bill Cohen

Two things come to mind when I think of Mary Helen:

First, she is such an advocate for Hatteras Island, and especially Rodanthe, Waves and Salvo.  So many times all we see in the paper are First Flight and Manteo High School.  If it weren’t for Mary Helen showing all the interest in our kids, going to almost all the home games, and a lot of the away games, I think our kids wouldn’t be represented at all.  

Of course, it’s her job to report it, but she really loves what she does, and it shows.  She even represents our visiting teams from close-by counties, taking pictures of their teams and cheerleaders and getting them in the paper as well.  I don’t believe you see that from our neighboring counties.

She also has such great ideas for our tri-villages for parades, celebrations, dinners, etc.  She puts a lot of thought into these events -- coordinating speakers, entertainment, and recruiting all the necessary help to make it all come together.

Second, I have never met a lady who knows a little bit about everything.  Mary Helen has called me many nights, usually about the building calendar, and those conversations turn into long talks about just about anything.  If you need to know about bike paths, bridges, birds, commissioners, elections, local history, recycling, parades, the schools systems, the Park Service’s latest no-no’s, fishing, the weather, the thrift shop, the overwash, who went where, and the general state of Hatteras Island, Mary Helen is just the lady you need to call.

Mary Helen is one of those people with such a great spirit, and just loving living here, taking it all in, and celebrating life with her community.  I am sure glad she is here in our villages, showing us off to the rest of the area!

Susan Gray

As a family, we cannot say enough good things about Mary Goodloe-Murphy!  She has whole-heartedly welcomed us since we moved here.  

We have attended community events that she either created or sponsored or was called upon to participate in.  She is an outstanding example!  We have seen her standing in the rain thanking people for coming to vote, cleaning trash off the road, and spearheading the recycling program.
One day, she came by our house with a lost dog.  She spent the better part of that day trying to find its home.  She would be an asset to any community, and we are very fortunate to have her here!

Thank you for everything Mary Helen.

The Blues

I’ve known Mary Helen for quite a while.  My first recollection of knowing her was after some storm back in the early ‘90s.  The road was flooded.  I was on my way to Rodanthe.  Just south of the pier was a flooded area.  I was just easing along, and I saw some lady wading through the water about halfway to her knees.  

I remember thinking, “This lady has a lot of nerve.  It would be so easy to splash her!”  But, I didn’t.  I slowed even more.  As I got to her, I stopped and chatted for a few minutes.  She was so appreciative that I had not soaked her.

This is the way I’ve always found Mary Helen to be.  She appreciates everyone she comes into contact with.  No matter where you see her, she is always smiling.

Jimmie Hooper

We have known Mary Helen for most of the 16 years that we have lived on Hatteras Island.  Looking back, our first contact with Mary Helen was probably at the school. Since that time, it seems like we have encountered her at every school and community event that we have ever attended.  It is always a delightful experience to see Mary Helen.  She always has a smile on her face and takes the time to chat with every one that she meets.  The image of Mary Helen with her notepad and camera has become a wonderful part of the Hatteras Island landscape.  The time, effort, and dedication that Mary Helen has so generously donated have made a significant and meaningful contribution to getting the news about Hatteras Island issues out to the community and to the county.  We are deeply and genuinely grateful to Mary Helen for all that she has done, and we look forward to many more years of knowing her and enjoying the fruits of her talents.
Tom, Louise & Lorin Hranicka

Mary Helen has worked tireless to promote Dare County and especially our educational system. Our children’s accomplishments would go unnoticed if she did not keep the newspapers full of the happenings in the schools on Hatteras Island. I recall her support of our schools 100 percent when I was a school board member, but more importantly I recall her support of my efforts in leading the education system in Dare County.  Keep up the good works, Mary Helen.
Virginia Tillett

We appreciate most your vision – a safe bike path to the RWS library or for children at school to walk to experience the maritime forest.  The reality of bringing books into every home by celebrating Dr. Seuss’ birthday.  Thank you for your energy and devotion.

Amberly Dyer and Jon Brown

Thanks so much for being at all the ball games and just supporting all of us!  The teams all really appreciate it!  You’re an inspiration to me, and I love looking into the newspaper and seeing Hatteras in the paper instead of First Flight and Manteo all the time.  Once again thanks for everything you do and for all of your support!

Caitlyn Gray

Thanks for your tireless works for our community.  We have all benefited so much.

Pat and Paul Roberts

Thank you for always making sure the activities the tri-village children participate in are reported in The Coastland Times, along with plenty of pictures, and your support of all activities and opportunities for our children.

Steve and Judy Ryan

Thanks for the inspiration that fills my heart whenever I am near you.  You are a true blessing to all who know you.

Love and peace to you always.

Valerie Stump and family

You weren’t openly active at first, but I was always pleased when I knew you were interested in an event because I knew it was important to the area.  Thanks for your support then and your unbridled support now.

Ann Privett

To the gal who keeps Dare County running – at least our three villages.  Thank you for the thrift shop, thank you for being our RWS President, thank you for being you.

Ann Drain

I’ve only just met you this year through recycling activities.  Tonight I learned many new things about you.  You are an inspiration.  Thank you so much for all of the wonderful things you’ve done for the Hatteras Island Community!

Carol Bauer

I have very good memories of Mary Helen.  She was always active in the fire department and so many community projects later on in 1986 and on, especially on Election Day.  One time I remember her even standing out in the rain holding an umbrella.  It was then that I realized how devoted she was in doing what she believed in.

Always friendly with a smile – I could go on and on.

Olive D. Patrick

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