Sterling resident Murray David Barnett, 55, died of natural causes at his home on Friday, Jan. 25, 2013 leaving behind his loving wife Alice, his dog Steve, and many friends.
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No service is planned and his ashes will be spread in the Kenai River he loved so much, as he wished.
Murray David Barnett was born on May 17, 1957 in Detroit, Mich., to Fred and Veronica Barnett. Murray and his family soon moved across the country to settle in Belmont, Calif. Murray's life was to be greatly impacted by this move because it introduced him to the Sierra Mountains and Yosemite National Park which he loved so much. In the wilderness and peaks of Yosemite, Murray discovered his love of the outdoors, and he was always ready for the next great adventure. Before he was old enough to drive, Murray would hitchhike the 250 miles from Belmont to Yosemite to spend weeks backpacking with his many friends.
When he turned 18, Murray joined the United States Navy and served on the U.S.S. Kitty Hawk. During his career in the Navy, Murray found another passion in flight. He earned his pilot's license and enjoyed having adventures in the sky as well as the mountains. Upon completion of his military service, Murray traveled extensively, always drawn to his love of flying and of the outdoors. During this time, his travels took him to the exclusive world of rock climbing. Murray was a part of the 1989 team of climbers who summited Yosemite's El Capitan. One of the climbers on this team was the first paraplegic to successfully climb this 3,000-foot face. This climb has been chronicled in both films and in books as an amazing feat of human endurance.
Yosemite also gave Murray another gift, perhaps the greatest one of his life, his wife Alice. After sharing Yosemite with Alice, they were married on July 14, 1994. Murray and Alice moved to Alaska in 2000 and they built their home facing the mountains he loved so much.
Murray worked using his flying skills as well as in home construction where he could be outside with his comrades. Murray also worked in public relations, and it was here that he became a part of the creation of the Yosemite Climbing Museum which is still in existence to this day and continues to influence and inspire young climbers.
"Murray was the toughest man I knew," said longtime friend Doug Baxter. "If I ever found myself in harm's way, it would be Murray Barnett I would want by my side.
"Murray was larger than life, he always had a quick laugh that infected everyone and you couldn't help but join in. Murray had such a large personality that he affected every room he entered. I will miss him greatly."
Arrangements made by Peninsula Memorial Chapel & Crematory. Please visit Murray's obituary and online guestbook at alaskanfuneral.com.
Published in The Peninsula Clarion on Jan. 29, 2013