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John Murray (1922 - 2012)

Obituary
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Murray, Lt. Colonel John Joseph (USAF, RET.) Jan. 6, 1922 - Jan. 30, 2012 Lt. Colonel John Joseph Murray (USAF, RET.), 90, loving father, caring grandfather, and cherished friend and mentor of so many, died peacefully on January 30, 2012 with his family at his side. He was predeceased by his loving wife of 63 years, Terry Casey Murray; his brother, Paul Murray; and his parents, John B. Murray and Madeline Cassidy. John is survived by his beloved sister, Theresa Gagan, and his devoted children and grandchildren: Bill and Sharon Murray; Laura Murray and her children, Alex, Chris, and Elizabeth Matthews; Nancy Murray and Jim Feuille, and their children, Claire, Catherine, Connor, and Colin Feuille. John was born and educated in Brooklyn, New York, graduating from high school in 1939. He was well liked and well known for his love of jazz, having skipped more than a few classes to head into NYC to listen to Benny Goodman, Louis Armstrong, and other great musical legends of the time. In 1957, he received a Bachelor of Science in Political Science from St. Joseph's College in Philadelphia, PA, where he also served as a ROTC teacher. That same year, he graduated from the United States Air Force Command and Staff College at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama. John continued his education by earning his Master's of Business Administration at the University of Dallas in 1977 at the age of 55. John bravely and proudly served 24 years as an officer in the Air Force, retiring in 1967 as a Lieutenant Colonel and Combat Rated Pilot with more than 5,000 flying hours. His military career earned him the Air Medal with two oak leaf clusters and numerous other military service medals. He was a gifted pilot, qualified in 20 different aircraft. John started his military career in 1942 with the dangerous assignment of flying C-47 aircraft over "The Hump" in the China-Burma theater of World War II for the U.S. Army Air Corps. He then signed on as a Base Legal Officer at Mitchell Field in New York where he tried over 400 cases. John was named the Commander of a Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron based out of Yokota Air Force Base in Japan, where he served from 1960 until 1964. The activities of his unit are still classified, but it is known that he led overt and covert reconnaissance missions throughout East Asia during the Cold War, as well as atmospheric sampling missions to detect Soviet nuclear explosions. He ended his distin-guished military career as an Operational Plans Officer at the Headquarters North American Air Defense Command (NORAD) in Colorado Springs, Colorado. John was a dedicated and active lifetime member of the Air Force Association, serving one of the longest terms as Northeast Texas Chapter 416 Vice President of Community and Government Relations, and was instrumental in the financial success of the annual Golf Tournament scholarship fundraising event. Upon his retirement from the Air Force, John and his family moved to Greenville, Texas, where he began a second notable career in the aerospace industry, working for 31 years at the company now known as L-3, and retiring in 1998 at the age of 76. John's management positions encompassed high technology (including the Advanced Research Project Agency, for which he successfully managed the Multitude Chip Module Program and the Applied Specific Electronic Module Program) and very large and complex aircraft programs. He also served as the Material Program Manager for the E-4B Advanced Airborne Command Post Program. His love of flying led him to co-found the Greenville Flying Club, for which he served as President for a number of years. Members have fond memories of John flying the traffic pattern for what seemed like hours. He remained certified to fly well into his 70's. John was honored to be appointed as the longest-serving Chairman of the Employees' Political Action Committee. During his 19 years as Chairman, John introduced many innovative ideas such as sponsoring a Youth and Government Seminar, which became an annual event, and hosting informative political forums in Greenville. Special guests he invited and befriended over the years included then Governor Bill Clements; then Governor and former U.S. President George W. Bush; U.S. Senators Lloyd Bentsen, Phil Gramm, Kay Bailey Hutchison, John Tower; and many U.S. Representatives, including Dick Armey, Joe Barton, Jim Chapman, Sam Hall, Sam Johnson, Max Sandlin, and his dear friend, the Honorable Ralph Hall, currently the oldest serving member of either House of Congress. John, who also proudly served as Chairman of the Board of the Greenville Chamber of Commerce, was a respected presence in both Greenville and Washington, D.C., and known for his intelligence, honesty, and integrity. Everyone who knew John was struck by his innate optimism, his positive attitude, his genuine kindness, and his inspirational ability to never, ever sweat the small stuff, or even the big stuff. John was a natural leader, encourager, friend to all, and an anchor in times of difficulty. He realized early on how important education is, and he was a transformative mentor to many young adults in their educational pursuits. He created a scholarship fund through his local Air Force Association chapter for college students struggling to make ends meet. He took an active role in encouraging these students and shared in their joy as they reached their goal of graduation. A Memorial Mass will be held for John on Saturday, March 17, 2012 at 10:00 AM at St. Joseph Catholic Church, located at 2207 Monroe Street in Commerce, TX. John's faith in God was an integral part of who he was, and he was a proud, active member of the Knights of Columbus for 30 years. A Reception and Celebration of John's life will follow immediately thereafter in Greenville at Dairy Manor, 5400 Business Highway 69 South. Friends of John are invited to attend either or both of these memorials. In lieu of flowers, John's family asks that you remember John with a smile and a hug of someone close to you. If you wish, you may make a donation in John's name to the Northeast Texas Chapter 416 Educational Fund, Air Force Association, Attn: Ms. Tammy Bryant, P.O. Box 8633, Greenville, TX 75404. John's family wishes to thank his many loyal Greenville friends, as well as the devoted doctors and medical staff at the University of California San Francisco Medical Center, for making the past four years of John's life full of hope, happiness, and genuine friendship until the very end as he gently slipped the surly bonds of earth to touch the face of God.

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Published in Dallas Morning News on Mar. 14, 2012
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