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Donald M. Murray
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October 02, 2015
Every time I sit down to write a poem or blog, draw a new map for an essay, or name a folder for a another manuscript, I pay tribute to Don. He taught me about the ways that Inspiration gets her strength from Discipline.

Writing is a choice. His no nonsense take on it was, "Stop whining about how hard writing is and go sell junk bonds." He will always be with me.
October 01, 2015
June 27, 2010
My Twice Lived Life: Like listening to a wise Father. I never had one. Thank you, kind and humorous and humble sir. You were there when I needed you. I will be looking forward to ordering and studying your works of art. Because you were such a wonderful writer, you will essentially live forever.
April 26, 2010
Two years after the fact, I, too, still feel the pain of Donald M. Murray's death. When working on my doctoral dissertation (a 100-year history of "voice in Writing"), Murray allowed me to interview him on two occasions - once at a writers' conference and, the second time, in his home in New Hampshire. He was everything, and more, that I thought he would be, i.e., "wonder-full" (full of wonder) for life and the writing profession.
After our second encounter which took place in his home, I conjured up the nerve to ask him for a third interview the next morning, this time on his reasons for dropping out of high school. Murray previewed the article before I sent it to a publisher and said to me, "I learned things about myself that I never knew." The World & I out of Washington, D.C., bought the article and ran a link to it on their Home Page for eight or nine years until Murray's death in 2008. The article was there, I am sure, to attract subscriptions.
Everybody knew and loved Don. The article was entitled, "Anatomy of a High School Dropout: Pulitzer Prize Winner, Donald Murray." It's still available on the web site, but now only by subscription.
Murray gave me the confidence I needed to finish my dissertation. I read all of his books and, literally, all of his articles in the professional rhetoric journals. His advice lives on for those of us who love to write. I join the crowd of witnesses who miss him tremendously.
April 05, 2010
October 03, 2009
Another essay about weasel words and doublespeak by William Lutz also garnered a sticky tab bookmark.And then yesterday, I got cornered by Donald Murray's Writing is Rewriting. So lucid, so explanatory, so insightful.thesis statement
August 21, 2009
Don, I just want to say that it was nice getting your letters when I was up in Milwaukee. You were a kind soul & you live forever in people's hearts & minds...I'm glad that I met you while I was a student at UNH. Not very many people can say that they knew a person like you...My dad just died so maybe you both are talking up in Heaven. Rest in Peace...See you later...
June 11, 2009
After devouring Writing to Deadline, I discovered that Donald Murray had passed away. A retiree now in Florida, I returned to writing after a 30 year hiatus and was inspired by his advice and his feel for the human heart. Though late, my sympthany goes to his family and his colleagues and his community-at-large. What a gifted and gentle man.
September 12, 2007
Please accept my deepest sympathies.
May 09, 2007
I had bought "About Language: A Reader for Writers" about a year ago, and dipped into on occasion. Other commitments kept me not between the pages until just this week. One selection by Richard Rodriguez was my second look at it, having previewed it in his book at Amazon. Another essay about weasel words and doublespeak by William Lutz also garnered a sticky tab bookmark.And then yesterday, I got cornered by Donald Murray's Writing is Rewriting. So lucid, so explanatory, so insightful.

Then I went online to find out more about Mr. Murray, only to find out that this titan of the written word had passed on so recently.

I do hope one day to read more of his books and his advice on writing, "a profound form of play".

(I might add that writing is not only a form of play, but a play of infinitely varied forms.)

In the same essay, he had many memorable lines, but I will put only this one: "... as someone who had played the games of football and hockey, the game of jumping out of airplanes, the terrible "game of war", I find rewriting the most exciting game of all."
April 16, 2007
Don Murray has always been the major influence on me in my career as a high school English teacher- but his influence goes further. He has shown us how to live a life in which we capture details, reflect on changes in the world, and reconcile them with our past, our present and our future. Most importantly, he has shown us how explorative writing can reveal truths that lie deep within us- our writing is born, it guides us, and it connects with other thoughts to synthesize new ideas. Thanks, Don, for contributing so much to the spirit of teaching writing.
April 16, 2007
Since his first Over 60 column appeared in the Globe when I was a young mother, I have felt a connection with Don Murray. His writing explored not only his reflections on his own life and aging, but also those universal experiences and feelings that we humans all share as we pass through life. Now I, too, have joined the Over 60's, the first year Baby Boomer generation struggling to grasp our own mortality. I deeply miss Don Murray's weekly columns and share the grief of his numberless readers and admirers.
April 11, 2007
Don taught me in a workshop in Burlington, Vermont in the Summer of 1979, and I haven't stopped writing since.

Tonight, I was reading one of his books, and I decided to google his name -- only to learn that he has just recently passed on.

Bravo! Murray, bravo!!

What a word slinger! What a great life! You taught the zebras to sing of their stripes!
March 22, 2007
I've never gotten so sad at the news of the death of someone I didn't know. Mr. Murray is an inspiration to anyone interested in the process of writing and of learning. I'm so happy to have known him (and to continue to get to know him) through his books...and I'm so sorry for your loss.
March 21, 2007
Mr. Murray as I remember calling him, was the dad of my theatre friend Hannah. She was a young prop mistress for a group of student produced one act plays who took me to her home for dinner in the mid 70's. Mr Murray was a genuine nice guy that made a stranger feel comfortable in his home. I remember the converstaion was lively and fun. Hannah you are very luck to have had him for a dad. I was sad to read that your dad had passed and it made me think of a pleasant memory a long time ago. Bless you and your family.
March 19, 2007
February 20, 2007
In late 1976 I came to Durham from South Africa, hoping for acceptance into the Writing Program at UNH, my father’s alma mater. The English department was uncertain about whether to accept me. Don Murray immediately suggested that I spend a semester writing fiction under his supervision. His perceptive guidance ensured that my writing came up to standard and I was accepted onto the program.

Because I had not officially joined the English department I knew few other students. Don invited me to spend New Year’s Eve with him, Minnie Mae, and Lee. That relaxed evening remains one of my most enjoyable New Year memories.

Don also introduced me to what he obviously considered was an essential aspect of American culture. I will never forget the excitement of my first ice hockey game and the astonishing sight of a decorous English professor leaping to his feet, arms extended, like a Zulu warrior in full battle cry.

I will always be grateful to Don for one of the most enjoyable and challenging periods of my life and for the kindness he showed to a student who was new to the United States and American life.

My warmest wishes to his family.
February 18, 2007
I first met Donald Murray just three days before his sudden death.

I am a fifty four year old Spanish journalist, who began learning English at the age of fifty, as you all will be able to see sooner or later, if go on reading.

I was surfing on the Internet, looking for something related to photojournalism, when, in poynter, I bumped into Donald's last column- 'Finding pleasure in the challenge of a blank sheet'. After reading that masterpiece, I felt the sensation of what I had met a soul mate, a buddy.

A few days later, I visited poynter again, but what I met that time was Donald's obituary. What could I do?

I burst into tears and remain crying for a long time. After all, I had lost one of my best friends.

Donald, I miss you
February 15, 2007
February 13, 2007
I'm saddened and frustrated.

It had been a while since I visited The Boston Globe online to read Donald Murray's column, Now and Then. And there it was: the notification of his death earlier this year.

Murray was a philosophical mentor for my writing. Two of his books (Writing for Your Readers and The Craft of Revision) are within an arm's reach on my dask as I type this.

At home, his Twice-Lived Life is on my nightstand.

And now I find out he is in his grave.

I recall a time years ago when I wanted to send Murray a letter. I wanted it to be an old-fashioned, delivered-by-a-postman, sealed-in-an-envelope letter. Not some e-mail. But, draft after draft never met my expectations. I didn’t want him to merely find the letter a polite and kind praise, I wanted him to arch an eyebrow or crack a smile And I wanted to evoke some response from him, some sense of approval.

I never finished the letter. That perfectionist in me never told him how much I loved his writing, because I was arrogantly (and foolishly) trying to force him to appreciate mine.

A lesson learned. Or, I should say, lessons learned.

1.) I'm foolish and arrogant.
2.) Don't wait.
3.) Seize the day.

I hope I can remember those things now and then.
February 12, 2007
I met Donald Murray once at a writing conference I organized at UConn. His ideas were so vital. I used his "A Writer Teaches Writing" when I taught Freshman Comp and have, since moving to France, read his column in the Globe on the internet. It was with great sadness that I read that he had died, but he went as lived, I'm sure. My warmest wishes to his family.
February 04, 2007
This entry is very late, as I just learned yesterday of Don Murray's passing. Sadly, it mirrors how long it took me to realize how big a name he was in the writing world. In the early 1980s, I roomed with Anne Murray when we worked together at Foster's Daily Democrat. For a sports story or two, I interviewed Don about his beloved UNH ice hockey team and how he loved to yell at the referees. In the 1990s, after I became a teacher, I became a National Writing Fellow and discovered that Don was (and is) a legend with the National Writing Project. Anne, if you read this, please find a way to make contact with me after all these years. My sympathies.
February 02, 2007
We were terribly upset to hear of the passing of your father and sent you and your family our most sincere condolences in your very sad loss.
Marianne and Réal Desmarets
Honorary member of the 17th Airborne Division Association
Belgian EOD Team
Feyzabad - Kunduz
January 31, 2007
I have read the Globe somewhat inconsistently lately and just realized yesterday that I hadn't seen the Now and Then column lately. With fear in my heart, I immediately googled Don's name and discovered his obituary. What a huge loss that man is to so many. My parents and I shared his columns for years with each other when they moved away from Massachusetts. His columns about adjusting to Minnie Mae's declining health meant so much to my mother and me as my father developed dementia and had to go into a nursing home after 50 years of marriage. So many times Don talked about feelings and events that resonated in my life. I think his acceptance and humor about difficult times was a wonderful example. And the way he stayed so active right up until the end is an amazing example of someone living life to the fullest. I would like to express my sympathy to his family who I know must be missing him terribly. What an incredible man he was! I hope that a collection of his columns will be published so his wisdom and humor can continue to inspire.
January 31, 2007

It is with a heavy heart that we learn of the passing of another Member of our World War II Family. YES Time is taking its toll. Please accept our Condolence at this time of sorrow. On behalf of the Membership of the 17th Airborne Division Association may we say "Farewell to a Distinguished Veteran and a Valued Comrade"


Del Townsend
Co A & B 194th GIR
17th Airborne Division Association
President, 2004 / 2007
January 31, 2007
[email protected]
January 28, 2007
Don Murray did more than teach others to write; he taught them how to live. His courage in sharing his joys, sorrows, knowledge, and passions with others is an example that continues to guide me. In a greedy world, he gave without thought of return.

I met Don several years ago at a reading at the Wolfeboro, NH, Library. The story he read was a typical Don Murray show stopper: there wasn't the sound of a pin dropping as he described an incident from his childhood--quickly followed by the typical explosion of laughter as Don put his usual, ironic, spin on the story.

Don knew how to life, enjoy, and share. Don knew how to take his readers along to the Bagelry and Youngs as well as the local Dover Delight ice cream store--or a hospital or the silence of his study after Minnie Mae's death.

He was human--but rose above it. He cut through the clutter with advice to like: "Success requires you first apply fanny to chair!"

During the past few weeks, at several points my wife and I started to pick up the phone and call him to see if he wanted to meet us at the Olive Garden. We shall continue to do so for a long time.
January 27, 2007
Since I no longer live in New England, the news of Donald Murray's death has taken this long to reach me, and, like others who have signed this book, I am deeply saddened to learn of it.

He was a humanist, a tinker of words, and unforgettable.

I will continue to use his books to introduce my writing students to his wise and measured sense of process--and to his humor, his wit, and his profound ability to get students to see beyond the obvious.
January 27, 2007
Don befriended my son and his family about a year ago. They felt it was a privilege to get to know him, and I was thrilled to meet him myself at their home (having been a long-time admirer of his writing). My grandchildren were the subject of a beautiful column he wrote back in August about reclaiming the beauty of observing the ordinary. What a wonderful gift to all of us! My heartfelt condolences to the family.
January 24, 2007
I just heard from a student in one of my workshops of Donald Murray's passing and felt immediately saddened. I was an English major at UNH in the early '80s and greatly benefited from the influence of both Professor Murray and Professor Graves (although I never had either of them as teachers) in learning to teach writing as a process.

I've carried Donald Murray's philosophy of "writing as a process of discovery" with me into many middle and high school classrooms. Now I share his joyful approach to writing with college students.

About a year and a half ago I emailed Don out of the blue, explaining I was a UNH alum, and asked him if I could use some quotes from his book "Write to Learn" (which I've filled with post-it notes) on the academic support web pages I was creating for my college. He graciously said I could share anything I wanted and we chatted a bit about UNH.

Donald's inspirational ideas about writing have helped me to approach my own writing with a spirit of playfulness, which has kept me going through two advanced writing degrees!

He will be greatly missed and my best wishes for his family.

I offer one of my poems to celebrate his valuable work:

"At the Altar of the Daffodils"

Alleluia yellow!
Row of nodding saints.

Bow low, nose pressed to petals.
Inhale green memories of freshly mown grass.

Repent dark hours of doubt, brooding
under weight of winter snows.

Raise high your soul, an offering
to clement blue skies.

Dance! Sing praises!

Sweet, smiling scent--
a benediction.
January 23, 2007
My Tuesday mornings are going to be emptier now. I am very sad.
January 19, 2007
I was stunned and saddened to learn of Mr. Murray’s passing. His family is in my thoughts and prayers.

I had the pleasure of meeting Don Murray in a Multi-genre graduate class at UNH the summer of 2003 and then in another course this past summer when our class of teachers visited in his home to hear his thoughts and share ours about writing, teaching, art and how they are intertwined. I remember the impression he made the first time, which was one of openness, wisdom and humbleness. I remember the second impression, which was one of life, love and splendid spirit.

During our visit, I feverishly copied his comments and am now glad of this as I can reread and reflect on his wondrous influence in the writing community. His words will live on in my memory and on paper. Perhaps this in one way he would want his words to remain alive, in text. I’m so honored to have met him and exchanged ideas about writing and teaching. It has made me a better teacher and a stronger person.
January 19, 2007
I did not know him very well. But his influence on the journalism program at UNH is tremendous and I was priviledged to have him come in to my Newswriting class last spring to speak with us. It was probably one of his last classroom visits. I have glanced at his columns, as I will continue to read about the man who has set the mark for many aspiring journalists. Rest in Peace.
January 16, 2007
Don Murray had the best ever way with words. He wrote what we might have written about the lives of so many we know were we able. He and I communicated several times by e-mail as I encouraged him to speak at a retirees group but he said, "I'm not a speaker I'm a writer." So we oftendid the next best thing and read his "latest" over 60 or now and then. Always to appreciation by our gathering and often with moist eyes. We pretended it was like his breakfast sessions with those lucky enough to live in Durham and have his acqaintance. This 70 year old truly will miss the occasional visit by Mr. Murray who expressed often what I have also experienced in this ever changing USA.
January 13, 2007
Don Murray was writing my story too. I eagerly searched for his column and then gloried in the fact that Someone understood the ups and downs of aging. I will miss him and will now search out his books. My condolences to his family. My belief, however, is that DM is now sitting amidst the Other Great Masters and is still sharing his insights.
January 11, 2007
My condolences to the Murray family. I never had the pleasure of meeting your father but felt like I knew him through his weekly columns. I started to read his work on a weekly basis a few years ago and always looked forward to his insight, sensitivity and strong sense of family and friends. Recently I have dealt with watching my father suffer with a slow and debilitating disease and now can really relate to his years with Minnie Mae. His death brought tears to my eyes which is a first for me with regard to a columnist that I had never met...You were all blessed to have him as a father and role model.
January 11, 2007
Don Murray reminded me from the first group coaching session at the Providence Journal to his last Boston Globe columns - submitted well before his deadline - that writing is not a gift but a duty if we are to call ourselves writers.
As Chip Scanlon pointed out eloquently on the Poynter site, there is a simple requirement for calling ourselves writers - or editors for that matter- we must write. That inescapable fact has brought me back to my computer at hours and on days when the lure of the cold beer and the silly TV drama would easily take my time. I am in Don's debt because he reminded me of the joy - no matter how great the agony - of writing. He never lost the spark, the childlike play of fiddling around with words. He would let us complain about editors and deadlines, smiling that wall-to-wall smile. Then came the nod that said, OK, time to get back to writing. I miss his gentleness and the way he conveyed that no matter how much I might hate the draft I'm working on, it didn't mean I was a bad writer - Just one with some revising to do.
January 11, 2007
Anyone who appreciates good writing, understands the importance
of friends and companions on the journey of life, and values their relationships with family (past and present), will feel diminished by the loss of Donald Murray. Let his legacy include a Boston Globe which strives for excellence in the written word. Certainly his place in the hearts and minds of his family and devoted readers has long since been cemented. My sincere condolences to all.
January 08, 2007
My name is Mike Michaud--I am doctoral candidate in the English composition program at UNH. I first met Don Murray as I departed UNH, in 1996, for the University of Iowa and grad school (the first time). I don't know how or why, but I felt the need to meet Don in person. I'm not sure if I had even read any of us his books at this point.

Somehow, I go his phone number and called him up and introduced myself and asked if it would be possible to meet sometime. He was willing and we arranged a meeting. Looking back on this now, it all strikes me as so odd and embarrassing--calling up someone you don't know, but feel you should know and asking to meet him.

Don was gracious. He invited me over to his house--me, a strange kid from UNH who called him out of nowhere but who was fascinated and intrigued by him. Me, a random student whom he'd never met.

So, I went to Don's house and we sat in his office in the corner of the basement, and I stared at the wall of CDs and I don't remember what we talked about, but Don gave me several photocopied articles that he'd written on writing and a laminated placard with the phrase "Nulla dies sin linea" on it. I went off to graduate school a few weeks later and read The Craft of Revision, which became my bible for teaching writing.

Over the years, I came into contact with Don on several more occasions--I interviewed him for a project I was doing for a class at UNH. I had lunch with him at Young's (not often enough) and, along with the other graduate students in composition, visited Don's home in Durham for potluck dinners once a year or so.

It's hard to know what to say about someone who touched and affected so many people, in so many different contexts and settings, in so many different ways, as Donald Murray did. I am thankful to have known him. I am thankful to have learned from him how to better communicate with students about matters which matter to them. I am thankful to have learned how to use writing as a tool to better understand my own life. Don gave so much. There's little one can do, now that he is gone, but feel incredibly, incredibly, grateful for having met and known Donald Murray.
January 08, 2007
Simply, thank you Mr.Murray. In your own humble way, you were a giant among men.
My condolences to the Murray children.
January 08, 2007
To the family of Donald Murray, I am so very sorry for your loss, we all will deeply miss your dad. I read his column every week and looked forward to Tuesdays knowing I could have something to savor and think about after reading them. He made me laugh,and cry, and appreciate every day life, to look for the little things and to not be afraid to put my true self out in the world for everyone to see. I will truly miss him and his writing.
My thoughts are with you during this sad time.
January 08, 2007
THANKS DON!! You will be missed! We lived in Cambridge for 24 years ( and subscribed to the Globe of course) before moving to the North Carolina in 2001- in order to help my elderly Mother. Before moving South, I, her daughter, used to send her Don Murray's articles every week and she would copy them and share them with her friends, as every column he wrote touched my Mom, her friends & myself. What he wrote was almost a play by play of what my Mom ( now 88) was experiencing. After moving to North Carolina, I would find his articles on line and read them to her or have her read them to me. We'd laugh at the funny lines and get sad at the sad events. He, more than any other writer, captured not only what it is like for one to get older, but also what the caretaker/s go through when they love an older famliy member. Don, thanks for writing all your great articles. You articulated the agony & ecstasy of living passionately into all our years, no matter how painful or hard. We cannot thank you and your famliy enough for sharing your stories and your life. We send love & thoughts to Don's family members and friends and please know we are so glad to have been his "readers" and to be a small part of the tributes to him. THANKS AGAIN! We're sure there is an some type of writer's tool that Don will locate in the after life. We only wish we could read about his new adventures now!
January 08, 2007
The line was long, the wait a test -- so many were here before me that day. One thing I learned repeatedly from Donald Murray, however, was that it's never too late...if it truly matters.

Thank you, Don, for showing up for life, for digging deep and sharing what you endlessly discovered. Thank you also for what you so freely gave away, hard-won though it often was.

My thoughts are with your family, that in time your absence will be felt by them as a tender presence. For the rest of us, we will have your words. They and you are indelible.
January 07, 2007
I will miss my weekly chance to reflect on life as seen through his eyes. It always was meaningful to my life.
January 06, 2007
I went through UNH without having had Don as a teacher and yet I've always tried to use the wisdom from his "Writing to Deadline" book in my own career as a journalist. His example was one of the reasons why I took on writing in the first place. I had the pleasure of meeting him once near my hometown and it's an encounter I won't soon forget.
My sincerest condolences to Don's family.
January 06, 2007
I loved reading his columns and looked forward to downloading them every week. Where do I look for inspiration now? I will truly miss him, as I really felt connected. My sincere condolences to his family.
January 06, 2007
sincere condoleances to Anne, Hannah and family - we will really miss Don's columns
Marjoke and Joost Schuitemaker
January 06, 2007
I'm very sorry for your loss. I always enjoyed reading Mr. Murray's columns, and found his books on writing to be helpful and inspirational. He seemed like a great guy. I will miss reading him.
January 05, 2007
As an avid reader of the Globe, I always read Mr. Murray's column on Tuesday without fail. He reminded me of the need to invite people into my life to love and care for through good times and bad. My grandmother and I always shared our love for the Boston Globe and compared notes over the years. When Minnie Mae died, I remember calling her and we were pleasantly surprised to learn that was her real name, we both always assumed that was a nick name he gave to give her a bit of privacy. I suppose she had given up on privacy long before! Condolences to the Murray family and friends.
January 05, 2007
I met Don last year at a UNH women's basketball game and after that he became a benefactor for all of our children at St. Charles Children's Home. I am grateful for his kindness to me and to our children. I had some good discussions about God with Don, and I'm glad that he has met Him face to face now and knows how much he is loved.
January 05, 2007
Don was a wonderful man I met Don many years ago when my mom started working for him, he had been in our lives for so long, my thoughts are with you.
January 05, 2007
I extend to all Don's family and friends my deepest sympathy and prayers.

I first came to know Don by reading one of his books the summer prior to starting my graduate work. For the first time in my life I came to understand and value the writing process and the craft of writing. Also, for first time, I began to write consistently and learn from my own writing.

I was mezmerized when I had the privledge of meeting Don personally while attending a Summer Reading and Writing Institute at UNH. I was even more amazed when I ecountered his down-to-earth, gentle, and kind spirit. Although he was busy with many projects that summer, Don took the time to personally meet with me, discuss my writing, and even gave me his email and offered to keep in contact. My brief times with him that summer and the e-mail corresponsdence that followed changed the way I would work with my own students both in the public schools and later in the university.

Don was a gracious, humble,caring, and expert teacher who, through his writings and our ecounters - both personally and through correspondence, impacted my life for the better as a teacher, academic, and a writer. He will be missed, but never forgotten. Part of Don's legacy will be not only his writings, but the influence he has had on countless teachers like myself.
January 05, 2007
Anne -
It's been many years since we've spoken. Your dad was my biggest booster though I think he was looking for some inside scoop on the Wildcat hockey team. I was deeply saddened when I heard of his passing. My sincere sympathies to you and your family. With all that is being written about Don, his grandchildren will have a wealth of information of much their grandfather was admired, adored and respected. Treasure the memories.
January 04, 2007
Anne,Hannah and families:
So very sorry for your loss.

I am left naked trying to write this. Somehow I managed to get through UNH without ever actually taking a journalism course from Don, but he remains -- to this minute -- the most influential man in my life.
He helped me to learn how to think on my feet. He opened the joy of writing to me. He insisted, in whatever I was doing, that I get to the point. He and Minnie Mae stood by me in just about every life crisis I have faced from my teens to middle age.
I will miss him, but his love of life and work and his sense of clarity are so thoroughly implanted in my soul that he will stay with me all the days of my life.
January 04, 2007
I was one of the lucky ones, and I never forgot it. As Chip Scanlan said so well in his tribute, I was an apostle. Don took my under his wing five years ago when I was just beginning to write for publication. The first time he called me he got my husband on the phone, and when Pat handed it to me, saying, “It’s Don Murray,” my heart beat so hard I could barely stand. As I talked to him that afternoon I looked across my study at the books lined up on my desk, one after another of his titles with Post-its coming out in all different directions. Don was my paperback mentor, an author I read voraciously and repeatedly, trying to learn how to teach writing. I laughed that day when he said, “I didn’t think you’d even know who I was.”
Don gave generously to everyone. Last May he designed a writing workshop course for the New Hampshire Writers’ Project that met in his home. He told me he would let 12 people in, but when 20 registered, he let us all come. We sat in a circle listening to him talk about writing his column for The Boston Globe, sharing our processes, reading and encouraging each other in our own writing work. He said once, “I tell others what Lee’s passing taught us: to listen to each other and to ourselves, to live the gift of life with caring and celebration. Today. Right now.” He lived that life.
Recently Don was helping me muck along through a book about teaching seniors in high school. I told him, “I’m rereading Read to Write and there is no reason for me to write my book. All anyone should do is read your work: it’s all there.”
He said, “Write your book. Your story.” He also reminded me that many people would never write, “so the field is left to those of us with little talent and great determination.” That was Don. He wouldn’t admit to his talent as a writer and a teacher, but those of us who leaned towards his light were inevitably, completely changed. Even now as I try to write this, I’m conscious of how I’m getting this writing done, so I can share that messy process with my students. I have lived Murray’s instruction to ‘write with my students’ and it has made all the difference in my work.
There’s only one thing that makes his passing easier for me. This weekend as I sorted through the many daybook entries, articles and columns I have saved I came across one from 1995 when he talked about losing his daughter Lee. He said, “When I was dying in a heart attack, Lee stood in a blue jumper she had made—waiting at the end of brightly lit tunnel, smiling.” I need to believe it ended just like that Saturday. That Don met Lee and Minnie Mae in a warm hug, leaving the rest of us to learn from all he left behind.
January 04, 2007
I was fortunate to meet Don Murray when I transferred from Northeastern to UNH in 1979 when my roommate and friend, Beth MacDonald, recommended his newswriting class. At the time, I thought I was more interested in TV journalism than print so Don helped me get an internship at ``Good Morning America'' in the booking department under the late, great Michael Kelly. When I got back to school, he asked me how I liked it. I told him I liked it well enough to know I wanted to go back to print. He was a treasured mentor and friend who helped me land my first full-time job in the business at the Gloucester Times. He was one of the most generous, kind souls I ever met. He and Minnie Mae were the model of what a marriage, a partnership, should be. He will be missed every day by those of us he touched and he will live on in the writing and spirit of everyone lucky enough to have known him. God Bless.
January 04, 2007
To the Murray family, and to all of Mr. Murray's faithful readers:

I was saddened by the news of Mr. Murray's passing. While I never had the honor of meeting him, I feel that I got to know him through his very personal writing. I read his column in the Globe for years, and almost always remarked that he was by far the best writer on the staff.

In 2005, my own mother, at 82, took ill in Memphis, TN. She was immobile, and had lost her ability to speak. Her mind was still very sharp, however, and I searached for a collection of Mr. Murray's columns to give to her to read. I could not find one, but I did stumble upon his memoirs, "A Twice-Lived Life." I gave that to my Mom, who enjoyed reading it until she passed away. Then my Dad read it, and also enjoyed it.

I sent my Dad a link to Mr. Murray's articles on, where he could enjoy each new article as it was posted.

The written voice, thoughts, and phrases of Mr. Murray will be missed by my wife and me, and my Dad, as well as by all of you.

But instead of mourning his death, let us smile at the memory of his life and his writing. It's what he would want us to do!

January 04, 2007
Tears ran down my cheeks when I opened my Globe & read Donald had left us to be reunited with Minnie Mae & their daughter, Lee. A friend & I had planned to drive to NH this spring and hopefully "bump into" Donald at one of his daily haunts - lesson learned - never put off what I want to do!
My Tuesday Globe will never be the same! You inspired me & made me think about important life issues, Donald - thank you from the bottom of my heart - may you rest in everlasting peace.
Peace & Healing to Anne, Hannah, their husbands and children.
January 04, 2007
Don was one of the first faculty members I met as a grad student at UNH -- in my windowless basement office with the heating pipes through the ceiling. I was unpacking books, and he asked me whether I was related to THAT McPhee (his and my favourite writer). Alas, not. I, too, wish I was.
I remember him carrying around a notebook full of collected quotations about Writing -- and wishing I had a copy, and when part of it did become a book (Shoptalk) I did.
And I remember how well he listened to people, and how inspiring he was just to be around.
I quote Don to my students every year, and have been doing this for more than 20 years with no reason to stop. He was a truly great teacher.
January 04, 2007
Dear Anne and Hannah,
My husband, Ed Sullivan, and I began reading your dad's column when we were in our 30s, even though it was aimed at over 60. We always enjoyed his frankness and lean prose. When I wrote an essay about my mother's loss of memory, I sent it to your dad for feedback. He said it was very good and encouraged me to write a book. He also added me to his list of recipients for his daybook notes, musings on writing. My husband died at age 44, leaving me to continue raising our teenage daughters. When I told your dad about my loss, he wrote me a beautiful expression of sympathy from him and Minnie Mae. In the years since, I lost sight of your dad, busy as I became, working, and raising the girls. I never wrote to express my sympathy at the loss of his beloved Minnie Mae, and I am sorry for that. So, now I want to express my sorrow over your loss of a unique man. I never met him, but feel close to him, because he so generously invited me and many others into his "twice lived life." I have restored my placard, "Nulla dies sine linea" to its rightful place on my computer, and plan begin writing again.
January 03, 2007
To the Murray Family

I have been reading Don's columns for many years and learned an awful lot about how to approach life's successes with humility, life's tragedies with courage and life's mundane with eyes that see possibility. Don Murray taught more than writing. He taught living.
January 03, 2007
I am saddened to read the last offerings of "Now and Then," and of the passing of Don Murray.
Mr. Murray opened a door to knowing aging in ways I hadn't imagined.
He made great contributions to helping many of us better understand the challenges from the inside out.
He was a gentle, patient, wise guide and he will be missed.
January 03, 2007
Judy and I send our deepest sympathy and prayers to and for the entire Don Murray family. One spring day in 1966 I all but tackled him walking behind Murkland Hall. I clamored for his initials on the next fall's class registration card to gain entrance into his newswriting course--as did many others. He graciously complied and that turned into a great blessing and friendship that extended well beyond college days and one that fortunately was renewed one day last fall over lunch. I introduced him to a Franciscan priest who needed help writing his doctoral thesis. Out came all his writing tips and his devotion to the craft and to helping others learn the craft. Afterward, he joked that he had been given the last rites three times in combat even though he was not Catholic. The Franciscan made it a fourth time before the lunch broke up. It reminded me of what happened back in 1966, when I was struggling, he lifted my spirit and showed me I could be successful. It made all the difference in my life. He rescued many students in this way and his wonderful prescription for writing has influenced at least two generations. His great influence will live on but those who knew and loved him will dearly miss his irreplaceable voice, warmth and encouragement. Now cracks a noble heart...and angels of mercy take thee to thy rest.
January 03, 2007
To Donald Murray's Family
It was such a shock to read of your father's death. His column was one of my favorites. I will miss him terribly.
January 03, 2007
Dear Anne and Hannah,

My husband first met your dad while having coffee at the Bagelry. As you know, the group is quite a collection of gentlemen. As your dad and my husband became better friends, your dad came looking for me where I worked at the time. He wanted to meet the wife of his new friend. He was just delightful, so genuinely caring and curious about everything and everyone! It was my great joy to cook dinner for him on several occasions. I will never cook a pot roast or beef stew (his favorites at our house) without seeing your dad in his place at our dining room table. He will be truly missed.

Maureen and Jerry Loughman
Durham, New Hampshire
January 03, 2007
To Donald Murray will always be "New hampshire".
Were going to miss you,

Nancy Libby
Plymouth State University class of 88
January 03, 2007
As someone who is just entering middle age, I learned so much from this lovely man and I will miss his words of wisdom. I hope that his daughters, family, and friends know how he touched the lives of so many strangers, and that my thoughts are with them. God bless!
January 03, 2007
I decided to take my lunch break just now and thought I'd get caught up on the past two weeks of Donald Murray's column. When I saw the word Obituary connected to his name, I went still and my heart sank, my lunch left uneaten on my desk. As a UNH journalism student in the late 90s, I was privileged to hear personal stories of Murray from my professors. He had affected their lives and careers so profoundly, and in turn, affected generations of students to follow. I was lucky enough to listen to Donald Murray speak when the UNH journalism lab was dedicated in his name, but star struck, I was too shy to meet him. I'll always regret that. Since then I have eagerly read his column every Tuesday, as well as many of his books. Not only was his writing superior, but the feelings and thoughts he portrayed were so eloquent, so real, you felt like you were sitting down with an old friend over coffee. His words stayed with me long after I read them. I wept when I read of Minnie Mae passing away, and now with Donald’s passing, I feel like I've lost a great mentor - for the love of life and writing. My heart goes out to his family and close friends. Though I’m saddened for the generations to follow who will never know him in person, I take comfort in knowing that his words will live on forever. And for those of us that have been directly - and even indirectly - influenced by Murray, I know we all can't help but to pass on Murray’s teachings and mantra. Nulla Dies Sine Linea.
January 03, 2007
My connection to Donald started from a Now and Then column that he had written in late winter which mentioned a spring writing class and one of his favorite bookstores on Water Street in Exeter. A heartfelt feeling took me there and I bought the book he suggested and left my information. Fortune smiled and on a Monday nights for six weeks I found myself at Don’s house in Durham with a circle of writers and novices of the craft. Don in his chair teaching by drawing us in and sharing his life and the work he loves. A large man in both stature and heart held court as we listened and learned in a circle where he made us feel equal. No pretense, just the spirit of a man open and true. His words ring true in my head: ‘Find your voice and tune it to the situation’
‘Writing is personal-be as true as possible’
‘The voice must sound like you, if not something is wrong-you may not be close enough to the material’
‘I still sometimes look at the world as a soldier’
‘Write with velocity and lower your standards’
‘Good writers see deep important things about the human condition. They articulate the human condition for those who can not’
‘Surprise is wonderful, I want to surprise myself some more before the road ends’

I met with him three times after the class ended. Twice for breakfast at ‘Young’s’ in Durham where everyone knows his name. The morning after class ended I picked him up at 5:45 AM. He told me he had stayed up all night as enthusiasm about the class, father’s day trip weekend prior, writing, and using his new art supplies would not let him sleep. He insisted on paying for breakfast and said that my turn was next. As I dropped him off at his house and told him to get some rest he answered, ‘after I write a little’. 82 years old, up all night and his motto, ‘nulla dies sine linea’ and work ethic still ruled.
For me he is gone too soon, too fast but he will always be with me. It’s his turn again to buy breakfast and he promised to come for dinner and meet my ‘Maria May.’
He believed in his family, his students, his friends and his colleagues. He gave us a confidence devoid of judgments that we could find our voice and tune it to the situation.
I offer a poem written with Donald in mind and submitted during what would be his last class. He had taken up drawing and painting recently for the sheer joy and surprise of it. The last line was added today.

Hard Wood Writing

Feeling lucid under pressure
Moments of sheer horror and panic do pass
Drawn on ousted emotions to draw-paint words to paper
Form scenes opened felt by me
Acts of art for others to observe-see
A word play called ‘New Hope Spring’
On a clean cool clear and cloudy canvass of Papyrus
Framed pages with words
Book cover borders
Times Temperaments Torments Trusts
Loss and Rebirth
Felt and Palpable on written page
Hopes spring grows and flows
Words in mahogany and oak
A writer’s true rings of hard growth memory
True to a vision of what has come to pass
Hard Wood Writing on soft textured page of one person’s past
Written Word Etched for Eternity by Scribed Survivor
Mahogany Voice Rises from Oaken Experience
From scribbler to Scribe the Survivor Crafts
The soft subtle textured pages of a life’s
Lessons Learned and Shared
Now and Then

Ken Pothier-just one of Don’s students-Raymond, NH
January 03, 2007
I "met" Donald Murray in October 1992 as a Poynter fellow guided by two teachers who admired him so much, Roy Peter Clark and Don Fry. Now I use his insight to help my own students shed their fear of writing, telling them he's a guru in New Hampshire who earned the admiration of generations of bylines they read by inspiring them, too. Thanks for being here, Don -- you've left a marvelous legacy.
January 03, 2007
To the Murray family, Our hearts go out to you in the loss of your Father. We were honored to know him and Minnie both through many of the UNH football games through the years, sitting next to them at the games. We enjoyed knowing him and we know he'll be missed by many people.Our thoughts are with you all.
January 03, 2007
I was sorry to hear of the death of Donald Murray. I never had him for a class, but he was my mentor just the same. I read his books and attended his writing sessions at English conferences. He had a presentation style that was as clear and inviting as his writing style. Through the years I have quoted him more than I have quoted anyone else in my writing classes. A great writer and a great teacher, he exemplified the title of his book A Writer Teaches Writing.
January 03, 2007
I am so sad to hear of Donald Murray's passing. I hope he realized how many lives he touched and how many people he helped. I didn't know Donald Murray personally but he helped me say the long goodbye to my own father. As Donald wrote about his wife's sickness and dementia, I empathized. His writing gave me solace and sometimes helped me find the humor in the day-to-day challenges of loving someone with failing health and dementia. Donald Murray wrote about Minnie Mae's hallucinations of strawberry dogs and of being a young woman again. He wrote about helping her to the bathroom. He wrote about just holding her hand. His words reflected his capacity for kindness, his love for Minnie Mae, and his appreciation of others. I am so thankful that I had the opportunity to know him "Now and Then."
January 03, 2007
How lucky I was. How lucky to land at the University of New Hampshire in 1972 and find Don Murray. How lucky to take course after course with him - all the regular offerings and as many independent studies as I
could create. How lucky to develop a friendship that let me see and feel the passion of Don Murray even more close up, perhaps, than we all see in his columns. The passion for Minnie Mae and family and, of course, writing and teaching and learning. But more than that, the
passion for hockey and football and all things UNH - except meetings
and a couple other trappings of bureaucracy - and classical music and travel and the jelly doughnut. In short, the passion for life. Life
lived large. Lived well. How lucky was I. How lucky were we all. Thanks
Murrays, for sharing.
January 03, 2007
I never did meet Don Murray, but wished to every time I read a column. I told everyone I knew how much his words connected with me! How I will miss his weekly visit.
January 03, 2007
I was so saddened to open the paper 5 days after clipping Don's last column to send to my friend, a struggling writer, and see the story about his passing.
I started reading the column 'Over 60' back in my thirties when 60 started to sound, not so old.
Over the years I traveled with him and Minnie Mae to Florida. listening to classical music, of course, and to places I could imagine my father having been, the battlefields of WWII.
Don shared his life with his readers and when by hapstance a few years back he wrote about his sons in law as the sons he never had, I found out I knew one of them and had met his wife Anne, Don's daughter. It is a small world.
Through his writing I've admired Don's determination to not only survive life's difficulties but to wake up each day and get out the blank sheet of paper and write about it, to face the inevitable losses of aging the only way that works, by doing it.
My thoughts and prayers go to Anne, Hannah and their families.
Tuesday's paper will never be the same.
January 03, 2007
Don was an inspiration to generations of writers. I was fortunate enough to meet him a few times and I learned a great deal from his ideas and insights. I frequently use his tips when working with students and new reporters. Like many writers, I have Don Murray maxims taped to my computer.
I also loved his column. He was greatly admired, loved and respected and he will be greatly missed.
January 03, 2007
This is so sad.
We all must go some time but we aren't all going to be missed like this man. I have never met Don in person but I feel as if I know him and his family. His writings were interesting, loving and contained so much common sense and compassion.
My sympathy to his family.
January 03, 2007
To Donald Murray's Girls!
I will truly miss reading your Dad's column which I looked forward to every week. He will be truly missed.
January 03, 2007
Dear Hannah, Anne and Don's family.
The legacy that this remarkable man left is an enormous one. He was a most generous teacher who shunned the thought of keeping the secrets of writing to himself. He taught me to believe in myself as a writer, and how to honor the struggles and welcome the mistakes, as well as to relish the joys. My husband, John Gaumond, and I send you our deepest sympathy. Please take some comfort in the knowledge that he will never be forgotten in our house. We have a shelf full of his books, which we continue to open when in search of craft and the art of writing. His work sustains us now, as it has in the past. He was a great man.
January 03, 2007
To Don Murray's Family - How lucky you were to have had him. I knew of Don through a close friend who forwarded his weekly column to me for the past few years. It became part of my life and I find my heart is now broken. How amazing that he left so much for so many. A true teacher, healer and a friend even to those he never met. It does make me feel better to think that he is now with Minnie Mae.
January 03, 2007
The "Sticky" note on my computer said "call Don." I started to pick up the phone but Anne beat me to it. She delivered the blow with a quiet voice. Don was gone, gone out of my life after almost 62 years of close friendship.

It all began in Berlin in August 1945. These two paratroopers met after jumping into radically revised post-combat careers. From the foxholes of WWII, I became an announcer at AFN Berlin and he became a jeep driver assigned to the station.

We knew from the beginning that we shared many interests--in music, art and writing. And we took advantage of AFN's ability to get tickets to everything going on in that ravaged city.

By the mid-1950's we were living but a few miles from each other. But even after their move to Durham, there were regular visits in both directions--in NH, NY and FL!

It has been a long journey and I mourn the loss. A great writer, he was also a great human. My secretary, way back in the 60's, knew and liked Don. One day he walked into my office, gave her a copy of "The Man Who Had Everything," and wrote and drew a message on the title page. It said, "To Mary Lou--who does all of Jim's writing for him--and this book would have been better if she'd done mine." He then drew a smiling face and signed. Pure Don!

There is now another empty chair at my table.
January 03, 2007
Taking in good art has made me wonder. . . why not ? It seems simple. While anyone can write. . . not everyone is a writer. Donald Murray was a writer I especially enjoyed. I was another member who was not his "intended audience". I send condolences to his family. I wish I had met him beyond his words which made me think.
January 03, 2007
I'm 35 and have been reading Donald Murray's column since, as I remember it, I was a teenager. He became like a secret member of my family that I was the only one to know about- if that makes any sense. I got to know him as he was as a child, a young man, and an old man. I met the love of his life, Minnie Mae, and I watched their grace and courage from afar. I'll never meet either of them now, and he'll never know how he touched my life in a very small but very real way. I'd like the people that loved him to know that he had a loyal readership to the end, one that valued his ability and his humanity.
January 02, 2007
To Don's family and friends:
I met Don and Minnie Mae as a very young child; their daughter Hannah was one of my sister Lauri's best friends. It was many years later, as an English and journalism student at UNH, that I grew to know and deeply respect Don as a teacher, writer, friend. My husband Jim, and I, met when Don encouraged me to write for The New Hampshire all those years ago - yet another reason to be so grateful for Don's presence in our lives. He will continue to be present for us, as Jim teaches writing, and I begin anew an effort to make writing a career. What an honor to have known such a remarkable man.
January 02, 2007
As a Globe reader for many years, my heart broke when I read of Don's passing. His column was so personal, how could anyone who followed his life story feel like anything but a friend? I cannot imagine Tuesday without Don's words and wisdom and will miss him so, so much. If anyone kept it real, it was Donald Murray. He was so loved and will be missed by so many, I wish all of Don's family and friends peace in their grief, and God's Blessings to Don.
January 02, 2007
I never met Donald Murray. Last Tuesday I clipped his article on the irresistable joys and agonies of writing. I've long been a fan, and I always felt he had something essential to say.

I celebrate the talent he shared with us all, and I am grateful. And I'm a little jealous of those of you who had the privilege of knowing him personally. What a wonderful, wise and loving man he was. What a wonderful tribute to him that we are all so desolate at the thought of the Globe, and the world, without him. God bless him and all his lucky friends whose lives he blessed.
January 02, 2007
Don Murray was a teacher and a mentor, a special friend who guided me through his journalism classes and into a lifelong journalism career. He befriended my father -- like him a World War II veteran -- and they shared stories at the Dover A and P, where my father stood guard over the vegetables as produce manager. Later he learned of me and encouraged me to try newspapers and writing as an undergrad at UNH in the late 60s and early 70s. Damn, his classes were hard, but he instilled a spirit of continuous improvement in all that I did. He became a beacon to me for the next 35 years and rarely did a I make an important decision without consulting my lifelong mentor.
Warren Watson
Journalism teacher
Ball State University
January 02, 2007
Don Murray was the best teacher I ever had and he is the main reason I ended up having a career in writing. He taught by example, by writing every day of his life. (It was remarkable, though not surprising, that he submitted his last column to The Boston Globe on Friday, December 29, the day before he died. His professionalism and passion for writing were unsurpassed.) He taught by being a perpetual student himself, learning as much as he could about his students, and sharing with them all that he continuously learned about the craft of writing. Most importantly he taught in the way a good parent teaches, by believing in his students, sincerely caring about them, praising them for what they did well while gently nudging them toward ways to improve their work, and getting them to think for themselves and work hard. His students wanted to succeed because he assured them that they could succeed. I had the incredible good fortune to meet Don in 1978 when, as a sophomore at UNH, I showed him some articles I had written for a small newspaper on Long Island. He enrolled me in his magazine writing classes, (the best classes I ever took) and challenged me to write and rewrite, often beginning his conferences by asking, "What did you think of this piece of writing?" He helped me land an internship at Boston Magazine and after I graduated he kept in touch with me during the years I worked at Vogue magazine and later as a full-time freelancer at home. Once, I mentioned to him that my son, then in fifth grade, had written a short story that his classmates had loved. A few days later a package arrived in the mail addressed to my son in which Don had enclosed his book, Shoptalk: Learning to Write With Writers, and a note in which he told my son that he had begun writing the book when he was his age. He encouraged my son to keep writing by saying, "You aren't going to be a writer; you are a writer, and so was I at your age." Don was a born writer and teacher and I will forever consider myself blessed to have been able to call him my teacher, my mentor, and my friend.
January 02, 2007
To the family and friends of Don Murray: Although I never had the pleasure of meeting this larger-than-life soul, I have so appreciated reading his columns in the Globe- as one struggling writer to another. He will be missed.
January 02, 2007
To the Murray family,

I'd like to express my condolences on behalf of myself and my family. I never met Don Murray in person, but we both shared an uncle. Donald Smith was my grandfather, Arthur Cameron's best friend and long time cohort. He was known to me as "Uncle Smitty" and was my friend and pen pal for many years. I looked forward to when Don Murray would write about him and fully appreciated his article that stated, "The world is linked by story".
I always looked forward to when he would mention Smitty and continued to get to know this large, loud and always friendly man from my childhood thanks to Don Murray's writing.

Godspeed Don Murray
January 02, 2007
I send my deepest sympathy to Anne and Hannah on the loss of your father - and my cousin. May the memories of your dad and mother bring you comfort, and may you find peace knowing that they are together again.
January 02, 2007
To the family of Donald Murray I offer my sincere sympathy. I had the great luck to discover Donald's writings in the Globe years ago, also his book "The Twice -Lived Life". It seems as though I have been reading him forever. I will miss him greatly.
He is not one who will be replaced, but surely remembered.
January 02, 2007
Don Murray was, simply, the best damn writer I've ever seen.
He encouraged me to get into journalism as my adviser at U.N.H., and taught me that writing is not easy - and not just an academic exercise. He wrote for the readers, which I guess is why I was a devoted reader of his columns, even years after I left UNH.
I wish I could have sent this to Professor Murray while he was still around - although he probably would have made a few polite editing suggestions.
My sympathy to the Murray family. What a loss to you, and to readers and writers everywhere.
January 02, 2007
Hello family friends and collegues:

Reading all the wonderful tributes gives me goosebumps. When I got to read his pieces about his beloved Minnie, I think about my parents, God bless them, they are 80 something now and their health is compromised and they are very devoted to each other after 60 years of marriage. Mom and dad had ten children, they lived through the depression but what matters most to them is their love for each other and their family and friends..

Don: I know that you are rejoined with your beloved Minnie
January 02, 2007
These words are for Don's family and for all who were led by him, as I was, to the writing life:
* Start in the moment.
* The more personal you are, the more universal.
* Don't be afraid to fail; failing is good.
* Where's the surprising word or line?
* Write...a word a day. Write every day.
* Nulla dies sine vocum (last word right?)

Don taught me (and my son, George Watson, who beat me to this site because he's a damn good reporter because he carried Don's book on journalism wherever he went, maybe even into the delivery room when his wife gave birth to their son)to beat convention and practice the writing life, so I did. He taught me how "A Writer Teaches Writing," and about "Learning by Writing." I wouldn't be who I am without having known Don Murray as I did. Apostle? You bet. From day 1. And it won't stop now; he's here on my desk, in all I write, in the sketch he did--of himself in a blue wool cap that I knit for him--that hangs still and ever will on my office wall. Don's teachings provided a way of life....what more could one person give to another?
It is with deep sadness that I acknowledge his death, but his legacy is immeasurable. This is what he gave us: a way to live.
January 02, 2007
I have enjoyed Donald Murray's columns for years. While the newspaper is often a mix of "hard" bad news and "soft," light filler, his columns brought depth and hope. He wrote about some of the really important things in life: love, friendship, pain, memory. His thoughtfulness, wisdom, and joy will be greatly missed.
January 02, 2007
By Tom Eastman
Mountain Ear Editor-at-Large
“NULLA DIES SINE LINEA.” (Never A Day Without a Line.)
Those words about the writing life — originally uttered by Horace (65-8 B.C.) — were given to me as a freshman journalism student at the University of New Hampshire in fall 1975 by Professor Donald M. Murray, who was then the chair of the UNH English Department.
Writer of The Boston Globe’s “Over 60” column for more than 20 years, and winner of the Pulitzer prize in 1954 for his editorial writing for the Boston Herald when he was just 29, Murray died at age 82 Dec. 29 while visiting a friend in Beverly, Mass.
I heard the news on the radio as I awoke on New Year’s Day Monday. And while the nation mourned the loss of former President Gerald R. Ford, whom I also admired for his integrity and sense of fairness, I felt a more personal loss of my writing mentor, Don Murray.
Don had a gentle way of guiding you along — and he is the main reason behind my life’s work these past 27 years.
But first a little background. You could say I got my real start in journalism a few years before I came to UNH, and two or three years before Gerald Ford was vaulted into the national spotlight from his congressional seat in Michigan to replace Spiro Agnew as Richard Nixon’s vice president during the Watergate scandal.

I was a paperboy for the Nashua Telegraph in those days, and each day, I would pedal my fat-tired one-speed bicycle through our neighborhood in Hudson, delivering the day’s news to everyone’s doorstep — but not until I had had a chance to read the headlines (and maybe even a story or two, sneaking in my reading between each stop). Then as now, I was a news junkie, and while it probably took me longer as a result to deliver the news than the other newspaper boys, no one had a better time of it.
Like other journalists with whom I have spoken, the Watergate era propelled many of us into journalism — the idea that reporters could uncover the big story, and bring down a scandal-riddled government that deserved to be toppled.
Of course, with age, you learn that life is not always as crooked or glorious week in and week out as all that, and good journalism doesn’t have to just be about the bad stuff.
Don Murray celebrated all of the good and bad in his columns, showing the rest of us just what may lie ahead in his writing about aging in particular, but more to the point, about life, whether it be the tragic loss of the loss of one of his daughters or of his wife in 2005 after a long battle with Parkinson’s Disease.

I was lucky to have Don take an interest in me when as a senior in high school I came to him to talk about journalism.
The then UNH Dean of Admissions, Dean Savage, was a friend of a family friend, and he had set the talk up for me. Even though I had no intentions at the time of going to UNH, I figured it would be good for me to meet Prof. Murray. We talked for three hours!
I decided after that session to go to UNH after all — not Bates, and it was all because of Don Murray. That fall, six months later, I was in Durham. But there was a problem — I was exempt because of my SAT verbal scores from freshman English, but because I was a freshman, I was told upon arrival that I couldn’t get into any of the higher writing courses, which was, after all, the whole reason why I was there!
I was getting extremely frustrated, when Don Murray and I bumped into one another on Main Street a few days after my arrival on campus.
“Eastman,” he said, tapping me on the arm, “I was very pleased to see your name on the incoming list of freshman. How’s it going?”
Being shy (in those days, any way — journalism has cured me of that former trait all these years later!), I got my nerve up and told him about my troubles about not getting into the upper level classes.
Frowning, he snapped, “I feel responsible. I’ll work on this. What’s your dorm phone number?” Three days later, the phone rang, and it was Prof. Murray: “OK, you’ll be put on instructor Les Fisher’s Expository Writing class roster, but he’s full, so that’s just paperwork: You’ll come see me every week instead.”
Bingo — that was my start not only of a private weekly session with the then chairman of the English department, but also of a writing career and a friendship.

He always told me when I was studying under him during my four years at UNH, “Write about what you know.”
Over the years, I have shared the same advice with young aspiring writers when I discuss writing.
The Murrayisms are inside my head always, and I put a voice to them whenever a young intern comes here to work for us at The Ear: Bring it to life. Don’t tell me it was “interesting” — show me that it was!
Summarize: you had to sit through the meeting; don’t make your readers do the same! And, speaking of meetings, if you’re on your way to one and you have to drive around a bomb crater to get there, forget about the meeting: cover the bombing!
“Nulla dies sine linea.” I have kept that laminated gift from Prof. Murray with those words above mycomputer for these past 31 years. Thanks, Don!

Tom Eastman is a 1979 graduate of the University of New Hampshire and an award-winning
snowsports journalist who serves as Editor-at-Large of The Mountain Ear newspaper of Conway, N.H. By Tom Eastman Mountain Ear Editor-at-Large
January 02, 2007
Since I write for the Globe, maybe I should not be here. But Don Murray was my mentor, so I write as a UNH graduate. In Senior Honors English at UNH he took me aside and said, ``Let's forget the classroom stuff and let you just write.'' And so I did. And like Don Murray every day since, I am either writing on paper or writing in my head. And Don, it has worked out pretty well.
January 02, 2007
Don Murray was Writing Coach at the Boston Globe when I was a young columnist finding a voice. He was the first person I met in the business who said it was a fine thing to sweat the literary small stuff -- the phrase, the word, the transition, the adjective, the sentence, the paragraph break, and everything else that came together to make the big stuff sing. That made him a gift in the newsroom where filing fast was generally considered more important than polishing a metaphor.

I once told him I had trouble answering editors who wanted to know what a piece was about before I started writing. "Good," he said. "Don't tell them." He said writing was thinking and that being surprised by words meant they were alive. He also told me to write about what scared the hell out of me.

I'm retired now and still working at finding that voice -- a constantly evolving process that shouldn't stop. He taught me that too.

I miss him, of course. But I'm glad to know that he didn't get old, that he died in mid-stride, energetic as ever, visiting a friend, planning the next project, and, no doubt, polishing a few metaphors.
January 02, 2007
To The Murray Family,
I am a better person for having known Donald Murray. He changed my life and I will never forget him.
My deepest sympathies.
January 02, 2007
January 02, 2007
Anne, Hannah and Family,
I met your Dad a few years ago when I was a cook at Kirkwood Corners while your Mom was there. I remember Don would come in two-three times a day every day to just sit with Minnie Mae. I had many conversations with him about everything and nothing. He would tell me all about his life and Minnie Mae's. My 12 year old son used to love to sit with Minnie Mae and just talk to her and listen to everything she had to say. He met your father one day and Don got him interested in writing. He sent home a packet of his work and also his laminated words,Nulla dies sine linea. I don't know many people that would take such an interest in a child. He had a huge impact on my 12 yr. old. Also on everyone that met him. He will be sadly missed by all who knew him. Even those who only knew him through his column.
My heart and prayers go out to you all.

Thank you for being the person you are. You are definitely one of a kind. I will miss you greatly. Thank you for everything you have added to my life.
Rest In Peace Don.You can now be with "your" Minnie Mae.
Lori A. Rice
January 02, 2007
Fifteen years ago, I got a call from my mother. She told me how a former professor of her's who became a longtime friend and writing buddy had learned that I was a young reporter. The next thing I knew, his book "Writing for Your Readers" arrived in the mail. "Call me if you'd like," he wrote. I called. And called and called. I was fortunate because Don took a liking to me, and apparently saw something that made him eager to help. I'd send him copies of stories that I was proud of, and he'd mail them back with a few red marks and his always-honest assessments. He opened numerous doors for me and put me in touch with former students at big-time newspapers who were always willing to help. Whenever I returned to New England, I would make a pilgrimage to his home, and he would welcome me, my dog and later, my then-infant son. As the years passed, we talked less but I could always keep track of some of his life with his weekly columns. I am fortunate and grateful and honored to have had the time with him and the teachings he gave me, and I will continue trying every day to be as fine a journalist as he told me I could be.
Thank you, Don.
January 02, 2007
I never met Mr. Murray but I have read his column since its inception. I no longer live in Boston, but his column has remained the only feature that I never miss. I'm much younger than he was but without his column I am not sure I will know how to age well.
January 02, 2007
I went thru Minnie Maes trials and tribulations ,with his column, as my grandmother entered her dementia..and his writings touched my soul..every Tuesday...HE WILL BE MISSED.. Kathy Solorzano..Woburn Mass
January 02, 2007
To the Murray Family:

Don was my first real mentor and a huge influence on me. He encouraged me while I was at Oyster River High School to study with him at UNH...Every week, I would treasure my time with him. He opened up new vistas to me and I have always greatly appreciated that.

To his credit, he never diminished my turning to a career in television news and kept up his encouragement when we occasionally corresponded over the years or ran into my family in Durham.

Three cheers for the life and work of Don Murray. He was a class act and my thoughts and prayers are with you, the family he so cherished.

Anne Azzi Davenport
January 02, 2007
I met Don Murray in 1964 when I enrolled in his writing course at the University of New Hampshire. Lucky for me that he had decided to return to the University just in time for me to be one of his first students. I was never the same after I took his course. He left a life long impression on me with a deep appreciation of writing and of those who write. After losing touch with Don for some years, I renewed contact and we became friends and colleagues. His passing will leave a deep void for me. I wish I had got to Durham more often.

Fortunately, he has left an enduring legacy in his many books, articles, and columns all imbued with the distinct voice of Donald M. Murray.
January 02, 2007
I still keep at my desk the "editor on a stick" that Don Murray gave me during one of his Poynter seminars.

A huge picture of his face is printed on the front and "Nulla dies sine linea" or "Never a day without a line" is printed on the back -- his wise encouragement to write every... single... day... As I recall, he gave us these big sticks with his face on them because most writers had the same whine in his seminars. Gosh, how we longed to have someone like the great "Don Murray" to nurture and edit us at home. Well, this picture was supposed to do it for us. We all wished for that Poynter time clock, where we could just play together like children with our words.

I'll always treasure that week of creative nurturing from him, Roy and Chip... I never felt so excited to be a writer nor so joyful about the assigments we were given to share with each other. I shall revere those sessions all of my days. I am so grateful that he left behind those disciplined, wonderful notebooks. I cannot wait to get some time to study them.

My deepest condolences to the colleagues who were fortunate to work with him and also his family, of whom he spoke and wrote so lovingly.
January 02, 2007
To Don's family and countless friends,

I mark the pivot of my life according to B.D.— the dark years Before Don, when writing was still some mystical secret held only by the ancients, and A.D. — the years After Don, when he showed me that writing was a skill to be rigorously practiced, thoroughly enjoyed and proudly shared. I loved, respected and admired him. His importance in my life is inexpressible; his impact on the teaching of writing, immeasurable. He was the most generous man I have ever known. If only he had left behind the words I need right now. "Thanks, Don," just does not cover it.
January 02, 2007
He meant so much to so many of us. Without his help and encouragement, I'd have never become a writer or an editor. And, of course, he influenced my teaching--and my thinking about writing and teaching--more than anyone else I can think of. Most of all, he was a generous, kind, and always supportive friend, collegue, and mentor. You know someone is special when you can say without hesitation that you're a better human being for having know him. Don was that kind of man .

We'll miss him terribly. But I like to think of Don in the way Hank Venuti, a great teacher himself, and a good friend of mine, portrayed his life and contributions. He said, "{Don} added energy to so many writers' lives (yours included); he left more energy around than he took with him."

Mike Steinberg
January 02, 2007
I never had the pleasure of meeting Donald Murray, but in 1986, when I was making the transition from radio to print journalism, I found a copy of "Writing For Your Readers," and have been a devoted student and disciple of his work ever since.

I recommended and passed on copies of that book to dozens of reporters over the years. It, and its successor "Writing to Deadline," remain the best tutorial out there for writing news copy with clarity and grace.

Clarity and grace are certainly two words that apply to his columns also. I will miss his weekly observations on aging, on creativity, on family.

To Anne, with whom I had the pleasure of working with at the Worcester Telegram & Gazette, and to Hannah, you have my deepest sympathies. You were blessed with great parents.
January 01, 2007
There are a precious few people I could count through my adult years whose influence on me far outstripped my contact with them. Don, through the sheer force of the energy around him, always caused me to sit up straight and pay attention when I was in his presence. It was as though at any moment some nugget of wisdom would drop down and I'd be ever the wiser because of it. But the thing I remember even more was that Don never spent a moment with me in which he didn't make me feel -- uncomfortable though it was -- that I was the teacher and he merely the student. It taught me tons about the power of humility and its value to teachers.
January 01, 2007
I first met Don when he, Minnie Mae and their daughters lived in New Jersey in the 1950s. They lived in a huge Victorian and were struggling happily on the very erratic income of Don's work as a freelancer. Don had his study on the top floor, a mountain of papers, record albums, books, and a typewriter where at some point in the next few years he introduced me to modern jazz on a stereo that he probably assembled himself. Don and my Dad had met in Berlin in 1945, where because Dad had cleverly snapped up an announcer's job on AFN after fighting his way across Europe, he was entitled to a driver, despite being a buck sergeant. That driver turned out to be Don Murray. It is rumored that Don "acquired" the Jeep they used through means not generally approved by the Army motor pool. What is not rumored is that they remained friends for 61 years, speaking to each other several times a week and often visiting each other across the Hudson and across the country. When I told Don, a few years after we met, that I wanted to write, he sent me home with several hundred pages of examples, essays of his own and of others, in a bound folio called "How To Be Shakespeare." Similar contributions to others have produced generations of talented professional writers. He and Minnie Mae were remarkable people, as are their daughters, and I will miss him and his marvelous, big laugh, and his remarkable prose, though probably not as much as my father.
January 01, 2007
When Donald Murray donated years and years of his "day books" to Poynter, I was lucky enough to be part of a writing conference that met with him and spent some time exploring what he had written. He encouraged us to contact him if we had questions in the future, and so, several months later when I was writing an article for teachers, I e-mailed him, asking clarification on one of his points. His response the next day began, "What a wonderful way to start my birthday....sharing thoughts with someone else who cares about young writers." Donald Murray cared and that legacy will live on in all he helped.
January 01, 2007
Don Murrary came into my life as I was coming to consciousness as a student and writer. Without him, I doubt there would have been a journalism career for me.I learned basically one thing from him -- There's joy in the work, and the harder you work the fuller the joy. He was a complicated man, and not transparent despite all the writing. It was my good fortune to meet him at age 19, nearly 40 years ago. There have many days without lines since then, but never a sense that there was any better way to live than through writing.

Lou Ureneck
Dept of Journalism
Boston University
January 01, 2007
When I was at Saint Anselm College in NH, I interned for the New Hampshire Writers' Project. After hearing through the director that I hoped to be a writer but wasn't sure I had anything worth writing about, Don called me at the office for a pep talk. He followed up our conversation by sending me one of his books, as well as his laminated sign, "Nulla dies sine linea." He was the first of a few influential people I've met who have given me the encouragement to pursue my journalism career.

His passing is a great loss in the journalistic community and everywhere else. It's not often a genuine man of integrity touches one's life.
December 31, 2006
My sister, Janine, would send me the column by email at times & I so enjoyed them! I shall miss reading Donald's columns...I really loved them!
December 31, 2006
I "met" Don Murray not as a writer, but as a techie peon working the computer Help Desk at UNH. He called one day needing help to set up his email, and got me. He was, without question, one of the nicest people I had ever assisted - not simply polite, but warm. At the time I had no idea of his reputation, but found out about it soon enough when I started my freelance career. The way he treated me during those 10 minutes lent his teaching and writing even more credibility; he truly was a class act.
December 31, 2006
While we mourn Don's passing, let's rejoice in the lessons he has given each and all of us, directly and through Chip Scanlan, Roy Clark and countless others whose journalism and teaching he infused with purpose, clarity and joy. Thank you, Don.
December 31, 2006
I met Don just once, in 1990, when I visited him as part of a week's sojourn to mine the brains of the nation's best writing coaches. I had been tapped to become one. I knew nothing. Don knew everything.

What I remember best is that I met him at his home. He took me out to lunch, for a lobster roll. He talked to me as an equal, not as a naive student of coaching. Hell, at that time I didn't even know the questions, let alone the answers.

I must have been one of scores of students who came to his door. Yet, he welcomed me. He encouraged me. He reassured me. And he gifted me with his own wisdom.

I'll always be grateful.
December 31, 2006
To Anne, Hannah and Murray Nation:

I walked into Don Murray’s journalism class back when manual typewriters and editing pencils were the tools of the trade and a take was still a piece of paper. He regaled the class with quotes: “A good reporter is forever astonished at the obvious.” “A reporter is never off duty.” Neither of my spouses has fully forgiven him for the last one, but right from the beginning, he wasn’t just teaching journalism, he was talking about values, process and work ethic.
One assignment I’ve never forgotten was to rewrite the ledes of every story on the front page of the New York Times—not just once, but five times. Some kind of tortuous endurance test? Hardly. Beyond the nuts and bolts of a good opening paragraph, we learned that good writing is always a work in progress. Don challenged us, sitting in a classroom in Durham, N.H., to top some of the best work in the business. Imagine the feeling when we came up with a tight, crisp lede that read just as well or, yes, even better than the New York Times. Hey, we can do this!
Then there were the conferences to go over your stories. He didn’t give a grade. He didn’t begin by telling you what he thought about the story. Instead, like the relentless reporter he was, he asked questions. What worked for you on this piece? How did you reach that source? Who else could you talk to? Do you like the lede? What was your biggest problem? Sure, by the end of the conference, he’d shown you what worked and what didn’t, but you had the feeling you discovered it yourself—and you knew better what to look and look out for the next time.
That is a major part of Don’s legacy, and an important reason he inspired such loyalty and commitment among his generations of students. He didn’t so much teach as he made it possible for us to learn--about writing, journalism and ourselves. He treated us as peers. After all, as his last column attests, he was still a student of writing himself – and learning about himself -- right to the end.
I was fortunate not only to spend time in Don’s classroom, but later, to work with him for five years as a colleague teaching journalism at UNH--and to reconnect with Minnie Mae as well. Nearly 24 years ago, I left teaching to return to the newsroom. The technology is far different these days, but the values Don Murray instilled in that classroom endure. His commitment to the daily process of turning words into sentences, and sentences into stories, reflected a respect for the work that continues to be a source of inspiration that is with me every day.
Ron Winslow
The Wall Street Journal
UNH ‘71
Assistant Professor of English-UNH Journalism Program 1978-1983
December 31, 2006
Anne and Hannah,
My sincere sympathy to you both. I cannot put into words how much I looked forward to your father's weekly columns in the Globe. I would e-mail them to friends and family. He will be missed.
Kathy Menounos
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