Shirley B. Purdie, 84, beloved wife, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother, died peacefully, surrounded by her family on March 17, 2012. Mrs. Purdie grew up in Lawrence, Mass., where her tap dancing earned her the title of "Lawrence's own Shirley Temple." She was a proficient pianist, playing her baby grand at home throughout her life. She was also active in glee clubs and sang at St. Augustine's Church in the High Mass Choir. She later became the organist at the church.
She graduated from Lawrence High School and earned her associate degree in accounting from Burdett College. She worked in Cambridge, Mass., until her marriage to Walter "Red" Purdie. When her children arrived, she was a homemaker and quickly became a Jr. Girl Scout leader and den mother for the Boy Scouts. She later returned to work full time as a senior interviewer in the Lawrence branch of the Employment Security Office, eventually becoming a claims adjuster until she retired at the age of 72.
She, her husband Walter, and her children lived in Newburyport and then Amesbury for many years. She was an avid genealogical researcher and was able to write a history of her family. She was a direct descendant of George Soule, who came over on the Mayflower, of Colony leader Myles Standish and John Alden, as well as Percival Lowell, one of the first settlers of Newbury, Ma. She also enjoyed making miniature doll houses, knitting, and crocheting. In addition, she was active in the local theater scene, which was fitting as it was in doing theater that she met her husband some fifty-plus years earlier.
Mrs. Purdie is the widow of the late Walter M. Purdie Jr. They were proud to have been married 50 years. She is survived by her four children: Officer Nora D. Duggan of the Newburyport Police Dept. and her husband Paul Duggan Sr.; Dennis M. Purdie, a rural postal carrier in Exeter, N.H., and his wife Deborah Coley; Walter M. Purdie III, probation officer in Lawrence District Court; and Kara J. Purdie, a special education teacher at Salisbury Elementary School; two brothers-in-law, William Purdie and wife Constance of Clearwater, Fla.; and Armando Iannaccone of West Medford, Ma.; her grandchildren Cameron Purdie, Lisa Duggan, Paul Duggan Jr.; three great-grandchildren, Anthony, Tara, and Joseph Duggan, along with nieces, nephews, grandnieces and nephews.