by Joe Murray, Board Chair
100 years ago today on December 2 1919, my father John William Murray, was born in Syracuse, New York. The neighborhood in which he grew up was known as “Skunk City” due to the unusually large number of skunks that would roam the streets at night. A devout Catholic, Bill Murray attended Most Holy Rosary School and would later graduate from the College of the Holy Cross in 1941. PFC Murray served his country in Europe during World War II and came home to build a family that would include his wife, Martha, and four sons. Bill and Martha devoted their careers to social work, improving the lives of children struggling with social, physical, or mental challenges. It was on an unusually warm sunny October day In 1977 when Bill died suddenly while mowing the lawn. His heart, which gave out relentlessly for his family and the disadvantaged, gave in to the cigarettes and lifestyle that we now know end lives too soon. At the time, Bill had found what seemed to be the perfect professional fit: he was a social worker in a number of city schools. Most notable was his work at the Percy Hughes School, which offered innovative classes for the disabled, long before “universal potential” became an accepted goal of American education. At Percy Hughes, Bill’s kids – and he was known as “Bill” to them – learned despite the worldly limits of cerebral palsy, hearing/vision loss, and limited communications skill. After his death, his wife succeeded him in his role, further setting a powerful example for their children that the sum of a life, careers, relationships, and family devotion create a lasting common good. Percy Hughes School remains open to this day.
I write this passage as Bill’s youngest son, whose living relationship with his father lasted but 13 years. As I’ve grown, I’ve come to realize the important role grief plays in our lives. It is the unfinished business that follows so closely behind us and, for many, threatens to limit our own growth and fulfillment. This realization recently led me to a powerful organization whose services were not available to this 13 year old in 1977. Its mission is to support the countless children and families struggling to cope with the sudden loss of a loved one. Friends of Aine is a young and thriving charity that is addressing the unmet needs of bereaved children and families in New Hampshire. Chances are there is a similar effort near you. Please join me in celebrating Bill’s 100th birthday by contributing to Aine’s Fund, our annual appeal to continue our growth and ability to serve children like this long-ago 13 year old who still misses the man whose devotion to children in need lives on in his memory. Learn more about Aine’s Fund and how you can help by clicking here. Thank you!