Virginia Agnes (Larson) Murtuza, 84, of Austin, TX, passed away on Monday, September 25, 2023, in Austin, TX.
Virginia was born on December 30, 1938, to Wendell “Pat” and Ethyl “Agnes” (Herzog) Larson in Hawley, MN. When Virginia was two, her mother passed away, but her father’s sister, Ida Marie Larson, opted to become the primary caregiver for Virginia and her two siblings, enabling the children to stay together. The family moved often due to Ida’s profession as a school teacher and librarian but lived mostly in the vicinity of Hawley and Moorhead. Virginia graduated as a salutatorian from Moorhead High School and spent a year working at Prudential Insurance before enrolling at Concordia College. She graduated in 1962 with a major in English and minors in German and music.
Following in her aunt’s footsteps, Virginia taught high-school English in Luverne, MN, until she embarked upon a master’s program in English at University of North Dakota, which she chose over the University of Kansas because her sister was living in Grand Forks at the time. In an English course, she met Athar “Art” Murtuza, who was born in Hyderabad and had grown up in Pakistan. Undaunted by their differing cultural and religious backgrounds, the two started dating, finished their master’s degrees in 1967, and married in 1968. Their daughter Miriam was born in 1969.
The family moved to Pullman, WA, where both Virginia and Athar started the doctoral program in English at Washington State University. Virginia completed the coursework but left the program, subsequently working as a music librarian and university secretary while Athar completed his degrees. The family then moved to Spokane, WA, where Virginia was a claims adjuster at an unemployment office; Flagstaff, AZ, where she was a secretary and computer instructor at Northern Arizona University; and Budd Lake, NJ, where she returned to Prudential as an insurance-program tester until her retirement in 2000. In 2018, Virginia and Athar relocated to Austin, TX, to be closer to their grandchildren.
Virginia was both caring and fun loving. Her warm smile and engaging laugh drew people to her and made her a favorite among relatives, friends, coworkers, and even care-givers. She had no trouble conversing with total strangers, and poignant films and TV shows often moved her to tears. Virginia was also conscientious, diligent, and fastidious, and she enjoyed both the work and the relationships that her career provided.
Virginia had an affinity for music that abided her entire life. She studied violin, piano, and voice; played in orchestras; and sang in operettas and choirs. She could sing harmony to any song, and even in her last years when she had trouble speaking, she could still sing. Virginia also enjoyed sewing, crocheting, knitting, and embroidering and made many a handmade gift. She liked to travel, as well; highlights included a California road trip in a VW bug, sightseeing at the Grand Canyon, train trips all over the country, several visits to Athar’s family in Pakistan, and cruises to Alaska and around the Mediterranean.
Virginia is survived by her husband, Athar; daughter, Miriam Murtuza, and her husband, Troy Lanier; grandchildren, Carson and Maya Murtuza-Lanier; and sister, Audrey Madson. She is preceded in death by her parents, Pat and Agnes; aunt, Ida; and brother, Bruce Larson.
A graveside service will be held at 2:00pm on Saturday, October 28, 2023, at Silver Lake Cemetery, in Hawley, MN. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Concordia College of Moorhead, MN, or your favorite nonprofit arts or education organization.