The Columns

Charles F. “Murph” Murray, Former Head of W&L Security, Dies at 86

— by on March 18th, 2008

Charles Fletcher Murray, known to all as “Murph” during his 32-year career as the University proctor at Washington and Lee University, died on March 16. He was 86.

Murray was born in Lexington on Nov. 22, 1921. He grew up in Lexington and in Lynchburg, graduating from E.C. Glass High School. During World War II, he served in the Marine Corps aboard the U.S.S. Savannah, patrolling the Mediterranean. He survived the German bombing of the ship during the 1943 Battle of Salerno, Italy. After the service, Murray joined the Lexington Police Department, where he spent the next 12 years.

Murray joined W&L in 1959 to fill the new position of University proctor, otherwise known as head of campus security. He quickly became a highly respected and beloved member of the University community.

“Murph was one of the persons who shaped the character of Washington and Lee,” said Kenneth P. Ruscio, president of W&L and a member of the class of 1976. “He was legendary, a part of our history, someone who left his mark on countless generations of students. Whenever alumni gather, it doesn’t take long for a Murph story to be told, often with laughter, always with fondness and respect.”

When Murph retired in 1991, the W&L Board of Trustees passed a resolution recognizing his “selfless devotion . . . sense of fairness . . . ability to deal with people from all walks of life . . . encyclopedic knowledge of Washington and Lee . . . uncanny ability to protect students not only from outside forces, but also from themselves . . . ubiquitous and positive presence on this campus . . . [and] incalculable contribution to the life and well-being of this University.” In 1989, W&L made him an honorary alumnus, one of only five such individuals honored to date.

Murray is survived by his wife of 62 years, Marita French Mays Murray; a niece, Martha Murray Fruendner, and her husband, George, and son, Ian; and a nephew, Charles Richard Murray, all of California.

The funeral service is on Thursday, March 20, at 11:00 a.m., at the Harrison Funeral Chapel, Lexington. Burial will follow at Stonewall Jackson Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial contributions to Manly Memorial Baptist Church, 202 S. Main St., Lexington, VA 24450, or to Millboro Christian Church, Millboro, VA 24460.