Woman who worked at Doncaster funeral directors for 30 years dies at 67

A woman who worked for a well-known Doncaster funeral company for three decades has died.

Thursday, 14th July 2016, 12:18 pm
Updated Thursday, 14th July 2016, 12:19 pm
Ethel McMurdo, pictured in 2009.

Ethel McMurdo spent thirty years at J Steadman and Sons - one of the area's biggest and best known funeral directors - before her retirement.

Mrs McMurdo, from Fishlake, died earlier this month at the age of 67 with her family by her side after a long illness.

Ethel McMurdo at the start of her career with J Steadman and Sons.

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She was an administration manager at the Balby-based company which is one of the UK's biggest funeral directors.

An obituary for Mrs McMurdo said she said "passed away peacefully at home with her loving family by her side after a long illness borne with amazing strength and dignity."

It added that she was the dearly loved wife of Rob, cherished mum of Karen and Nichola and a dear mum in law to Wayne and Colin. It added that she was a "devoted nana to Jack, Joe and Freya and the cherished daughter of the late Dick and Mary Hepton of Fishlake."

"She was also a very dear cousin and a very much loved colleague and friend to many. A very special lady who will be very sadly missed."

Ethel McMurdo at the start of her career with J Steadman and Sons.

In an interview in 2009 as she marked 25 years with Steadman's she told of her time working in the funeral business.

Starting out as an office clerk, she rose to take on the business responsibilities of an undertaker, though she never conducted funerals.

She said: "Back then I suppose it was seen as unusual to have a woman filling in the roles of an undertaker but now it's not as male-dominated as people think. There are a lot of women here taking various roles and I think that is what makes us unique."

She added: "Arranging a funeral is a highly emotional task, it's not like buying a pair of shoes, an undertaker needs to make the customer feel at ease.

"Sometimes it's very difficult not to become emotionally involved, especially if the circumstances surrounding the funeral are tragic or there's a child involved.

"Many say they are pleased they are dealing with a woman and we have female embalmers here too, which is quite out of the ordinary."

She said: "It is an absolutely fantastic place to work, I can't remember a day when I haven't gone into work thinking I'm lucky to have found a job I love so much."

The mum-of-two, from Fishlake, said the support she received from her daughters, Karen Housan, 40, and Nicola Edgell, 38, who were teenagers when she took on the emotionally-stressful job also helped.

She added: "My daughters did at first think it was unusual but adapted to it and were very supportive. In a way I suppose it has paved the way for women to operate in these kind of jobs and having daughters means that they saw a woman could be successful in this line of work."

The funeral service, conducted by Steadman's, will take place on July 19 at St Cuthbert's Church, Fishlake, followed by committal at Rose Hill Crematorium at 12.40pm.