January 17, 2008
Mary Helen Goodloe-Murphy is honored for her contributions to the community
By K. ELAINE HOOPER
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
SOME OF THE TRIBUTES TO MARY HELEN
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
Working with you is so much fun. Your enthusiasm for each project
is contagious. The breadth of your interests and vision is
When we agree, you listen; when we disagree, you listen.
While you never take credit, there are always praises and thanks for us
Our community and our island are a better place because of you. I am a better person because of you.
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!
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
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
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!
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
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
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!
As a family, we cannot say enough good things about Mary
Goodloe-Murphy! She has whole-heartedly welcomed us since we
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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!
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