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  • Writer's pictureKen Murray

A Tribute to My Dad - Edward J. Murray

My Dad, Edward J. Murray ("Ed", "Jack"), was born June 25, 1921 in Schenectady, NY. He was the second child of John ("Grampa") and Marie ("Baba") Murray, and the brother of his older sister Virginia ("Ginny").

I do not know much about my Dad's childhood, except that his mother would smack him with a broom stick when she was mad at him. His father was an avid outdoorsman and so was my Dad. They hunted and fished. My Grampa John had a lot of talents, including painting and taxidermy (which Grampa did throughout the Great Depression to earn a few extra dollars). My Dad picked up on these talents and added wood carving to it.

Dad played football and basketball in high school. He was a star running back in football, and according to him, he played basketball like football. He told me he would knock the other teams ballplayers around and foul out a lot.

I think my Dad and Mom (Ruth F. Collins) went to the same high school, and that is where they met.

Here is a photo of Dad, I think when he was in high school.

Dad graduated high school in 1939 and went to Colgate University in upstate New York. He played football at Colgate, but I do not have any details of him in college. I know he studied geology and wanted to be a geologist. But World War II would derail these plans.

Here's a few photos of Dad that I think were taken during college.

Here is a certificate of Colgate acknowledging Dad played football during the 1940 season.

As I said, World War II interrupted Dad's college experience and his career plans. On December 7, 1941, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and the United States declared war. Dad enlisted in the US Marine Corp. He was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant and went to flight school, which I believe was in Pensacola, Florida. Dad and Mom had married on May 8, 1943 and they moved to Florida.

Here are two pictures of Dad and Mom, one wedding photo and another with my Dad in his dress whites.

Dad graduated flight school and earned his wings.

Dad became a dive bomber pilot in the Pacific. I know he was at the Guadalcanal, Mindanao, and Solomon Islands campaigns. I have his war records and will revise this post with some more details in the future. He was a war hero, having earned two Distinguished Flying Crosses for support of operations by "heroism or extraordinary achievement while participating in an aerial flight". He flew the Douglas SDB Dauntless. He also earned 5 Air Medals, awarded for "single acts of heroism or meritorious achievement while participating in aerial flight".

Here's some photos and newspaper articles of my Dad during the war.

My Dad became a father when my oldest brother Jack was born. When the War in the Pacific ended in August 1945, my Dad was discharged as a captain, and remained in the reserves. Dad, Mom, and Jack lived in Schenectady, NY through the 1940's and into the 1950's. My sister Pat, brother Al, and brother Glenn followed. They all moved to Syracuse, NY sometime in the 1950's.

I know my Dad worked for New York Telephone Company (NYTEL), which is part of Verizon today. While in Syracuse, Dad earned his bachelors and masters degrees in English. The war and family responsibilities kept him from ever becoming a geologist.

Ken (that's me) was born. I was definitely a surprise baby. In 1962 we moved to Elmira, NY. Dad continued to work for NYTEL.

Here's a few photos of Dad in the 1960's.

Dad ran for Councilman in Elmira around 1968. Here's his photo and political paraphernalia.

I mentioned earlier that Dad did wood carvings. He carved Disney and wildlife figurines and painted them. He was quite talented and I have about a dozen of his carvings at home. Here's a picture of Dad and some of his carvings.

When Dad wasn't at work, he would be in our cellar working on his carvings, working in his garden, or projects around the house. Sometimes, I would be in the cellar too, watching him carve or paint figures. He was also a voracious reader, reading several books at a time. He was always busy doing something.

In 1971, when I was 10, we moved to Vestal, NY. Jack, Pat, and Al had moved on with their lives, and Glenn stayed behind in Elmira to finish his senior year of high school. So it was just Dad, Mom, me, and our dog Amy.

My Dad continued to hunt, mostly with my brothers Al and Glenn. Sometimes I would go out and walk the woods with them, but I did not hunt as I could never shoot an animal. It just was not for me.

Here are some photos of my Dad in the 1970's.

I graduated from college in 1983 and moved to Maryland near Washington, DC in 1984. Dad retired from NYTEL, and he and Mom moved to Mechanicsville, VA (near Richmond) around 1986. My brother Jack and his wife Bobbie lived near Mechanicsville, and sister Pat and her husband Vin lived in Springfield, VA. With me in Maryland, the move brought them within a 2 1/2 drive of three of their kids.

Dad continued to garden, and although he stopped wood carving, he picked up painting. He was quite prolific as a painter; he would finish a couple paintings every day. Dad also became a Master Gardener through the Virginia cooperative extension, and helped people with gardening tips. Alzheimer's started to set in, but he kept up with his hobbies and working around the house. He also started working crossword puzzles. So he always had a book or crossword open.

Here's some photos of Dad and Mom's time in Mechanicsville, VA.

Here is a photo of a wooden butterfly my Dad created.

Around the year 2000, Dad and Mom moved into the Greenspring Village retirement community in Springfield, VA. They had a nice two bedroom apartment and loved the Village. Dad's Alzheimer's was getting worse and his health began to fail. He passed away in 2003. Even today, I think of things I wish had asked him or told him.

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