Murdock was born as Maggie Pettiford in Cedar Grove, North Carolina on 19 August 1887. She was the second of 11 children born to Monroe and Adeline (née Currie) Pettiford. Two of her siblings, Sudie and Helen, lived to be 99 years old.
Murdock spent many years in Baltimore, Maryland and Washington, D.C., while working for a Supreme Court Justice in Maryland as head cook.
On 14 March 1931, aged 43, Murdock married her husband Daniel in Danville, Virginia. The couple had no children together, but Daniel had a daughter, Minerva, from his previous marriage. Murdock moved back to North Carolina in 1974. In 1978, she moved into a nursing home.
In May 1983, Murdock was chosen as ‘Nursing Home Resident of the Year’ by the North Carolina Health Care Facilities Association. At the time, she was confined to a wheelchair due to arthritis. At the age of 93, she had taken up painting – in particular, still-life purple flowers – and had been able to start selling her work by the time she received the award.
Shortly before her 100th birthday, Murdock had to have both legs amputated due to poor circulation. She still participated in many nursing home activities such as crafts, ceramics, and games, as well as serving on the resident council. By the time she turned 105, her vision was poor and she could no longer paint.
As a centenarian, her favourite song was ‘Amazing Grace’. On 19 January 1998, aged 110, she became the oldest living person in North Carolina after the death of 115-year-old Maggie Barnes, the state longevity recordholder.
Murdock died on 22 July 2000 at the age of 112 years, 338 days. She was among the 10 oldest validated living people in the world. After her death, North Carolina’s oldest person may have been then-108-year-old Mary Grant of Kinston.
Several newspaper articles were published about Murdock, the first being when she was 95 after she was awarded ‘Nursing Home Resident of the Year’. She was given a plaque and recognised by then-North Carolina governor Jim Hunt, as well as then-President Ronald Reagan.
Articles were published when she turned 100, 104, 105, 108, 111, and 112, all celebrating her longevity and life. The TODAY Show commemorated her 108th birthday.