Carmen Rodgers Murray, 27, of Uvalda, died on Friday, July 29, 2022, after an extended illness, Squamous Cell Carcinoma (head and neck cancer). She was surrounded by family in her home when the Lord called her to Heaven.
The first occurrence of cancer was in 2019, resulting in radiation and multiple surgeries, according to her mother-in-law.
Carmen is remembered as an animal lover, giver, true friend, volunteer, and a Christ-like and accomplished young woman.
Carmen was a member of Vidalia Church of God. She attended Toddler Tech Preschool, Toombs Central Elementary, and Toombs County Middle School. She was a Dual Enrollment Graduate in 2013 from Toombs County High School. She also attended Brewton-Parker College (BPC) between 2013 and 2015 where she earned the title of Miss BPC. She was a varsity cheerleader for the Brewton-Parker Barons‘ basketball team. She also sang soprano for the BPC Voices of Truth.
Carmen worked part time at Duncan McRae House in Mt. Vernon with Ms. Jimmie Sue Bland for several years after high school while attending Brewton-Parker College. She coordinated and hosted the first-ever Mr. and Miss Duncan McRae Pageant. She enjoyed making all the residents feel special but was most especially fond of Ms. Bennie Pope.
Carmen later graduated from Georgia Southern University in 2017 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology. She worked part time at Maddie Bea and grew to love Mrs. Robin Barber as a dear friend, as well as her supervisor, according to her obituary.
Carmen’s most recent accomplishment was being a Southeastern Technical College graduate with a Registered Nurse (RN) degree in December 2021.
Five days after receiving her RN degree, Carmen found out the cancer was back and had metastasized to her lung. She had surgery, chemo, immunotherapy, and radiation. Nothing slowed it down, according to her mother-in-law.
During her clinical rotation, she was hired by Meadows Progressive Care Unit and was planning to begin her career there in February 2022 but was unable to begin working due to her recurrence with sickness.
Carmen enjoyed many sweet years with her rescue dog, Ivory, and rescue cat, Charlotte. They were some of her best friends. Carmen also had a deep love for children and recreational sports, which drove her to start tumbling classes and cheerleading for the Toombs County Recreation Department. She loved her students, and she was very much loved by them.
Carmen loved Christmas and was blessed by several communities, including Tattnall, who came together to make it happen for her this year in July.
She loved the beach; it was her happy place. One of her favorite places to spend time, whenever she could, was Amelia Island.
She and her husband, Dalton Murray, married on March 26, 2022, at Pine Knoll Farms in Appling County. It was a cool, crisp, and windy day.
On June 8, Carmen posted on Facebook to celebrate National Best Friend’s Day with the following message, “This man... truly the definition of my best friend. We can laugh together, cry together, you name it. We don't have to be somewhere extravagant doing something extravagant. We just enjoy each other. And this sweet man is the most wonderful caregiver I could ask for. No matter what I ask for or what I need, he gets it or does it with a smile and with joy in his heart. He never gets aggravated or tired of taking care of me. He says, ‘I'm always going to take care of you and make sure you have everything you need.’ And then he kisses and snuggles me. Dalton is my best friend, my caregiver, my lover, my encourager, and the love of my life, all wrapped up in one sweet, joyful package. I am so thankful God decided to see fit that we would end up together after all these years. I adore you and love you with every piece of my heart, Dalton Murray.”
While Carmen is from the Vidalia area, Dalton is from Reidsville. His mother and Carmen’s ‘mother-in-love”, Lisa Murray, described the young couple’s relationship as timeless.
“Dalton and Carmen would get completely lost in each other. They were so giving toward each other. You could look at either of them and clearly see how much they loved the other. They talked about everything. They shared everything. They always considered each other's feelings and opinions. Each one always wanted to do for the other. They both truly believed they were created for each other,” Lisa said. “I've never seen two happier people committing themselves to each other and hopeful of a long life together. Their wedding day was a long day full of celebrating with family and friends — a perfect day full of memories we will cherish forever.”
Although their time with her was short, Carmen has had an impact on the Murray family that has changed their lives forever.
“She was so easy to love, and we had no doubt she loved Dalton as well as the rest of us. She openly expressed her love and filled our hearts. She was very sick, in pain, and afraid, but she sought strength in our Lord, fought with everything she had, and chose to live every moment of her life to the fullest extent she could muster. We pray for the strength to follow her lead while each of us has a piece of our hearts now gone forever,” Lisa said.
Meagan Murray Rhiner is Dalton’s sister, Carmen’s sister-in-law. It so happened that Carmen passed away on Meagan's 26th birthday. Above all else, Meagan remembers Carmen’s faith and strength, describing Carmen to be her hero, and her love of laughter.
“One my favorite memories with Carmen was last summer at the lake. It was late one night, and we wanted ice cream. ‘We’ means Dalton, Carmen, me, and my husband, Jordy. We ended up deciding on smoothies, so we said, Smoothie King. Dalton was driving, and we had the closest Smoothie King pulled up on the GPS. According to GPS, we were sitting right on top of it, but we couldn’t find it. We ended up in a random parking lot that had gravel. If you know Dalton’s driving, you can imagine how hysterical this is. He stomps the gas and all we could hear was gravel flying behind us. Carmen always rode with her feet on his dash. When he did that she shot up so fast in the passenger seat and laughing so hard none of us could breathe. Knowing Carmen and how tickled she would get over things is what remains in my mind. We talked about that for months after,” Meagan said.
Amanda Marshall Lockwood of Reidsville remembers Carmen as a supportive, kind spirit. The two women often sent each other words of encouragement and support, since both of them were living with an illness.
“Carmen was one of the sweetest souls I have ever met! Always thinking of others even through her tough battle! I am going to miss our almost daily texts so much! Please pray for her husband, family, and many friends today as she is laid to rest! What a beautiful Angel we have watching over us all,” Lockwood said.
She is survived by her husband; parents, Jill and Ryan Rodgers; brother, Neal (Amy) Rodgers; maternal grandparents, Connie and Kenneth Sowell; paternal grandmother, Linda Rodgers; and several uncles, aunts, nieces, nephews, cousins, and many wonderful friends.
A funeral was held on Monday, August 1, at 12 p.m., officiated by Bishop Dan Tomberlin. A burial followed at Lakeview Memorial Gardens with Pastor Warne Merritt.
In lieu of flowers, the family has requested memorial contributions be made to Hope Lodge, 1552 Shoup Ct., Decatur, GA 30033; or to Community Hospice Foundation, P.O. Box 2277, Vidalia, GA 30475.