Pete Murdock, Ypsilanti’s former mayor and longest serving city council member, died on Saturday, May 4 at the age of 76 after battling an illness.
Murdock, who graduated from Eastern Michigan University in 1996 with a bachelors degree in political science, had a strong involvement in the community for decades.
“Pete was probably the defining feature of Ypsilanti politics over the last two or three decades,” Mayor Beth Bashert said. “He was a leader in many of the projects that happened. He was an outspoken proponent of many of the causes that are vital to Ypsilanti including recycling and civil rights and other aspects that protect residents of the city. He will be sorely missed.”
Upon moving to Ypsilanti in the late 1960s, Murdock began working at the Ford Rawsonville plant. However, he spent the majority of his career working in the nonprofit recycling sector, first with the Ypsilanti Recycling Project where he developed the city’s curbside recycling program and expanded the recycling drop-off center. He was later employed by Recycle Ann Arbor before retiring in 2005.
Murdock had a love for politics and was a life-long campaigner for civil rights. In the 1970s, he was involved with anti-war efforts and the human rights movement, which led him to eventually land his first city council seat in 1978.
Murdock served on the city council until 1982 when he became the mayor of Ypsilanti — a position
he held until 1989. He served additional terms on the city council from 1991 to 1993 and from 2008 up until his death.
Throughout his life, Murdock was involved in many local causes, such as helping form the Ypsilanti Food Co-op. With his wife, Grace Sweeney, he helped found the Ypsilanti East Side Neighborhood Association. They were also early supporters of the Depot Town Association.
Bashert recalled her favorite memory of Murdock during their time together in politics.
“He taught me how to campaign,” she said. “When we were starting our non-discrimination ordinance back in 1997 that went to a campaign in 1998, he brought us into his house and sat us down in his living room and he taught us how to campaign. It was an amazing experience. I really valued his teaching.”
Murdock is survived by his wife, Grace, and his sister, Susan Murdock.
A memorial service project is planned for June 8 from 2 to 4 p.m. at Prospect Park in Ypsilanti.
Bashert said she expects the event to be more of a casual ice cream social where the community can share memories and stories about Murdock.
“It’s Pete’s style and Grace’s request,” Bashert said.