Col. William L. Murray
October 25, 1938 to November 24, 2018
W.Lee Murray was a man with many names and titles. Named after governor of Texas, W.Lee (Pappy) O’Daniel, his given name was William Leo but it was not a name he was often called. He was W.Lee to his friends, Bill in the military, Colonel when he retired, and Dad/Grandpa to his family.
He began his life in Pursley, Texas, as the second child of William (Pete) and Muriel Alyne Murray. Raised on a dairy and cotton farm until the 8th grade, W.Lee developed a work ethic that was exhibited in all he did throughout his professional and personal life.
Although not a large man, W.Lee was a star football player for the Rockdale Tigers where he graduated from high school in 1957. At 155 pounds, he was an unlikely candidate to play center but he did just that and excelled. After a successful high school career, he dreamed of being a Texas high school football coach but that aspiration faded as his life took a different route.
During his years at Texas A&M, W.Lee was a proud member of Squadron 6, an air force unit, for which he served as commanding officer. While he was at Texas A&M, W.Lee developed an abiding loyalty for the Aggies, the Air Force, and service to his country. Commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant upon graduation, W.Lee began a career in the military that would span 28 years and numerous continents.
As a first-generation college student, W.Lee lived a life that he likely never imagined. He excelled in the military in a career that began in recreation services at Schilling Air Force Base in Salina, Kansas and culminated as the Director of Manpower and Personnel for NORAD and U.S. Space Command. In between, he served his country in Vietnam, staffed a team at the US Olympics, served multiple tours at Headquarters U.S. European Command (USEUCOM), attended the NATO Defense College in Rome, served as a liaison between the military and several African nations, and interacted with many military, political, and social leaders.
He traveled a long way from a small Texas town but he never forgot his roots. His Texas family stayed near to his heart even when the physical distance was great. W.Lee’s caring commitment to family was evident throughout his life. He was a father to three daughters, Tina, Kim, and Teri, with whom he had uniquely different but equally significant relationships.
After retiring from the military, W.Lee began his second career in real estate and marketing. It was a natural for a man who never met a stranger and made friends instantaneously. In fact, he became so close to one couple that they introduced him to their daughter and his future wife, Linda, and his soon to be stepson, Justin. It was in this second phase of life that W.Lee realized the rewards of the experiences and hard work earlier in his life.
W.Lee truly enjoyed his years after the Air Force and life was happy. Service continued to be a cornerstone of his life — albeit a different type of service. He hand delivered papers to his neighbors’ front doors every morning, shoveled their drives, and he served his neighborhood community. He was a trusted helper to his in-laws and continued to care for his family in numerous ways. No job was ever too big or too small for W.Lee.
One of his most cherished roles was that of grandfather. His close relationship with Courtney, W.Lee, and Austin who lived close by was incredibly satisfying to him. Like any good grandfather, he allowed them to do the fun stuff that others might not value! He was also incredibly proud of Jason, Meghan, Rachel, Anya, Markus, Audrey, Ross and Meredith.
W.Lee’s life was one that was well-lived. While his latter years were marked by a difficult decline from the challenges of Alzheimers, his underlying personality of concern and caring for others lasted throughout. Thanks to the care of Linda and others, his final years were as good as could be expected. His family is exceedingly grateful for those who cared for him and relieved that he has moved on to a place where he can once again feel unbelievable.
A celebration of life and reception will be held on January 26, 2019 at the Garden of the Gods Club from 1 to 4 pm. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Alzheimer’s Association or a scholarship fund set up in W.Lee’s honor at the Texas A&M Association of Former Students. Here is the link for the scholarship fund.
Messages can be left for the family at WLeeMurray@gmail.com