Thank you Russ. The obit brought back so many good moments with this great
teacher, so self-effacing and so profound, and unafraid to say so often that
we must feel before and as we write. A very happy new year to all of you!
----- Original Message -----
From: "Russ Hunt" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Monday, January 01, 2007 1:50 PM
Subject: Don Murray
>I suspect a fair number of Inkshedders will remember Don -- who never got
>to an Inkshed conference, but who was awfully influential with many who
> -- Russ
> Columnist Donald Murray dies at 82
> Pulitzer winner penned Globe's 'Now and Then'
> By Bryan Marquard, Globe Staff | December 31, 2006
> Five days ago, in his last "Now and Then" column published in the Globe
> before he died, Donald Murray was as in love with writing as he had been
> as a teenager -- and just as anxious.
> "Each time I sit down to write I don't know if I can do it," he wrote.
> "The flow of writing is always a surprise and a challenge. Click the
> computer on and I am 17 again, wanting to write and not knowing if I can."
> He could, and did, for decades -- winning a Pulitzer Prize at 29 for
> editorials he wrote for the Boston Herald, teaching writing at the
> University of New Hampshire, publishing book after book, penning column
> after column.
> "He basically lived through his writing," said his daughter Anne. "In some
> ways that was more real to him than his real life. Everything had to be
> sifted through his writing -- the good and bad. His whole life was
> Mr. Murray, who lived in Durham, N.H., was visiting a friend in Beverly
> yesterday when he died, apparently of heart failure. At 82, he was about
> to launch a website where aspiring writers could apprentice with the aging
> master, extending his career from the days of typewriter carbon copies to
> For two decades, Mr. Murray wrote the Globe's "Over 60" column, which was
> renamed "Now and Then" in 2001. Ostensibly aimed at the retired and the
> elderly, the column drew in readers of all ages.
> "You would think that his column would appeal almost exclusively to older
> readers, but I know so many younger readers who follow Don Murray and have
> to know what happened," said Steve Greenlee, Living editor at the Globe
> and formerly Mr. Murray's editor.
> Effortlessly turning the personal, the private, and sometimes the painful
> parts of his life into universal experiences, Mr. Murray crafted columns
> in which the passing of his years became a narrative embraced by legions
> of loyal readers.
> As his beloved wife, Minnie Mae, declined slowly from Parkinson's disease,
> readers were with him as he savored their remaining years. Silently
> watching from the vantage of newsprint, they sat with Mr. Murray beside
> her bed in their home and later in the assisted living facility where she
> died in February 2005.
> When he reflected on the changes wrought in his life after he suffered a
> heart attack in the mid-1980s, readers trembled at his fears and basked in
> his triumphs -- one of which was simply living to write again, and again.
> "I have achieved another generation," he wrote in March 2001 when his
> column's name changed. "I am no longer young-old, but at 76, old and
> looking forward to graduating to ancient in another 15 years. I had always
> thought the title of the column would be 'Over 60' until it could become
> 'Over 100,' but my editors suggest that I am so much over 60 that we
> should rename it.
> "It will be called 'Now and Then' (Minnie Mae's idea) and will allow me
> not only to report on the interior landscape of one who continues to ripen
> but also to comment on the external life with the perspective of an
> Donald Morrison Murray was born in Boston and grew up in Quincy. He had no
> siblings and, characteristically frank, described his childhood as
> "My parents and teachers got together and decided I was stupid," he wrote
> last year. "My response was to develop a private mantra: 'I'm stupid but I
> can come in early and stay late.' Surprise. It worked. Good work habits
> will beat talent every time."
> Mr. Murray was a paratrooper during World War II and married Ellen Pinkham
> in 1946. Their marriage ended in divorce and he graduated from the
> University of New Hampshire in 1948 with a bachelor's degree in English.
> He went to work as a copyboy at the Herald and became a staff reporter in
> Two years later he turned to editorial writing and married Minnie Mae
> Emmerich, who "was five years older than I was, an embarrassment her
> mother never accepted," he wrote this year.
> Mr. Murray was awarded a Pulitzer in 1954 for editorials "on the 'New
> Look' in National Defense which won wide attention for their analysis of
> changes in American military policy," according to the Pulitzer website.
> Turning down an offer to become an editor, Mr. Murray continued to write
> and started teaching college writing courses, then moved to New York City,
> where he worked briefly for Time magazine. He became a freelance writer in
> 1956, a tenuous existence for someone supporting a family. He began
> publishing books and joined the University of New Hampshire faculty in
> 1963, becoming professor emeritus in 1984.
> The university awarded him an honorary doctorate in 1990. Earlier, in
> 1981, he won the Yankee Quill Award, awarded by the New England Society of
> Newspaper Editors and the New England Chapter of the Society of
> Professional Journalists.
> As a writing coach, Mr. Murray was revered as he brought his plainspoken
> message to classrooms and newsrooms.
> "What Don did was take the mystique and myth out of writing for so many in
> newsrooms and elsewhere who thought you just had to wait for inspiration
> to come," said Chip Scanlan, who teaches writing at the Poynter Institute
> and was working for The Providence Journal when he met Mr. Murray. "He did
> this with a simple but powerful message: Good writing may be magical, but
> it's not magic. It's a process, a rational series of steps and decisions
> that all writers take."
> "He said those words and they galvanized me," Scanlan said. "I think I
> know what it's like to be an apostle, because I've been quoting and
> teaching Don Murray ever since that day."
> For Mr. Murray, each column, each sentence presented an opportunity to
> teach, and writing was never the only lesson. One of his many books, "The
> Lively Shadow," was about his middle daughter, Lee, who died at 20.
> "We don't get over the death of those we love," he wrote in a 1999 column.
> "Don't tell those who have suffered such a loss to get over it. Think how
> terrible it would be if we could forget."
> In addition to his daughter Anne, who lives in Weymouth, Mr. Murray leaves
> another daughter, Hannah Starobin of Mount Kisco, N.Y.; two grandsons; and
> a granddaughter.
> A funeral service will be announced.
> Russell Hunt
> Department of English
> St. Thomas University
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To leave the list, send a SIGNOFF CASLL command to
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write to Russ Hunt at [log in to unmask]
For the list archives and information about the organization,
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