George T. Murray George Murray passed away peacefully of natural causes at the age of 93 on March 22, 2020 in Pacific Palisades, California. Pacific Palisades rests on the bluffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean, bordering Malibu and Santa Monica in Los Angeles County. George and his wife of 62 years, Tonny, moved to The Palisades in 2018 to be closer to their children, Karraine and Michael, after living in San Luis Obispo, California for 40 years. George was a Professor of Materials Engineering at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. He also served as chair of the department for several years. In 1992 he transitioned to part time teaching, fully retiring in 1993. He found engaging with students to be some of the most pleasant and rewarding work of his career. "I think the association with young people keeps one in a young state of mind - and you are only as young as you think you are!" George was born in Waynesburg, Kentucky in 1927, the eighth of nine children. He and his siblings worked on the family's rural farm, harvesting tobacco, raising chickens and milking cows. One of his fondest memories of that simpler time was making ice cream from scratch as his family was one of the few to have an ice cream maker. There everyone gathered to partake in this monthly Saturday night treat. "The women provided the ingredients and engaged in local gossip while the men discussed weather, crops, sinners and politics. Teenage boys and girls flirted and the youngest kids played hide and seek." Between tending the farm and flirting, he made time to study and graduated as valedictorian from his high school at the age of 16. He entered Eastern State Teacher's College in Richmond, Kentucky as a math and physics major, after scoring in the top one percent on the state mathematics exam. In 1944 George transferred to the University of Kentucky to pursue a degree in engineering. After pausing his education for two years to enlist in the navy, graduating from its electronics school, he returned to Kentucky and received his BS in metallurgical engineering. He later received an MS from the University of Tennessee and his PhD from Columbia University in New York. While studying at Columbia he met his future wife, Tonny, a Dutch citizen, who was working at the Netherlands Consulate. They married in 1958 just after he obtained his doctorate. George joined two other Columbia graduates to form a new company, Materials Research Corporation where he served as Director of Research and later Corporate Vice President. During this time, he traveled extensively throughout Europe and spent one year as Director General in Toulouse, France, setting up a materials manufacturing plant. Upon returning to the states, the farm boy from Kentucky insisted on having a salad with proper bread prior to his evening meal. George and Tonny bought their first home in Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey, a lush suburb in the northern part of the state. On this hilly and wooded acre they raised their two children. Summer evenings were filled with barbecues and the catching of fireflies. Fall brought endless hours of raking leaves and winter all the neighborhood kids would sleigh ride down the slanted lawn - George scolding in vain not to run over his juniper bush. In 1978, they relocated to San Luis Obispo where George began his second rewarding career at Cal Poly. He and Tonny embraced this new lifestyle. George now had time for golf, travel, hobbies (gardening and astronomy) and volunteer work - helping low income seniors with tax preparation. In 1989 George designed and built their retirement house on the 13th fairway of the San Luis Obispo Country Club. His award winning roses adorned the entry. George authored a textbook on Materials Engineering as well as over 30 publications in peer reviewed scientific journals and trade magazines. He is listed in American Men of Science and Who's Who in Finance and Industry. Along with his brilliant mind, George possessed a generous heart. He will be remembered for his commitment to helping others and his belief in the value of education. George and Tonny funded scholarships with the University of Kentucky and Cal Poly University. He is survived by his wife Tonny of Pacific Palisades, his daughter Karraine of Brentwood, Los Angeles, and his son Michael (Raquel) of San Diego. A Celebration of Life will be held in San Luis Obispo at a later date.
Published in San Luis Obispo County Tribune on Apr. 5, 2020.