Eulogy delivered at the funeral of Dr. Fred Murray, sent to me by Nathan Maxfield, Associate Professor, University of South Florida, Department of Communication Sciences & Disorders and added with permission of Fred's nephew Bob who indicated that the family would feel comfortable sharing it publicly.
Hello, my name is Fermin Cruz, my wife is here, Rose Marie and my son Logan and Joshua Cruz want to extend our sincere sympathies to all of you, and especially to the entire Murray Family on the passing of our great friend, Dr. Frederick Pemberton Murray.
My wife and I have known Fred for a little more than 36 years.
I would like to tell you about our friend Dr. Fredrick Murray
In the summer of 1983 , I was 24 years old, newly married and had just graduated from the University of South Florida majoring in Mass Communications. Upon graduating I was offered a position as a Photographer Media Specialist in the marketing department of Morton Plant Hospital in Clearwater.
I had a nice studio and on occasion we were assigned "hospital volunteers" to help us deliver A/V equipment and Interoffice mail throughout the hospital.
One particular day that summer the Hospital assigned to us a volunteer. In walked a very tall, intelligent well spoken gentleman, he introduced himself "Hi, Im here to report for duty, I'm Fred Murray."
Little did I know that that simple introduction would lead to an amazing 36 year friendship.
Fred would spend most of his volunteer hours in our department. I would live vicariously through him as I would sit for for long periods of time listening to him describe his life's travels.
There were times when the other volunteers would come into the studio looking for Fred. Fred would motion to me to wave them away, and that he was not there. I would then proceed to hid him behind boxes or equipment. And when others would come look for him I would just say he was not here....in reality he was not, because I could see at the other end of the room, Fred's leg crossed over the other bobbing up and down as he read totally engrossed in a book about Cuba, or an island in Tahiti or the latest research of his true passion, Stuttering. (Show book of postcards from around the world).
Fred loved Cuba. He traveled there on education visas long before it opened up to US travel. Whenever Fred visited Cuba, he always made it a point to bring his favorite patterned material with him and would have a local seamstress make his shirts. Colorful with big buttons! (I'm wearing one today!)
Yes, these shirts are loud and lots of fun! And Fred loved wearing them. How wonderful it was for Fred to enjoy Cuba before it spoiled by commercialism and tourism. They called him Frederico in Cuba, and I started to do the same.
Fred would always get a kick out of the fact they could not find him, this allowed him to catch up on reading about his next travel adventure.
We had come to love Frederico, mostly because of his kindness, compassion and loyal friendship. It was not until I read his book "A Stutterers Story" (hold up book) would I come to know why.
Fred had an amazing memory, dates, places and details from as far back as when he was 3 years old! It was that power of recollection that allowed him to write the book and give us a glimmer of his childhood, his school years, his loyal service in the US Army, his doctorate, a teacher, a world traveler, a loyal friend and one of God's most magnificent human beings.
Fred grew up and lived in a gray stucco 17 room house, built in 1897, which sat on a hillside overlooking San Francisco Bay. In the northeast corner of the property he could see Alcatraz island with its lighthouse beacon flashing all night long.
His family had a summer home 40 miles north in Marin County, with a 60 foot pool, sparking Fred's life long passion for swimming.
What a wonderful view that must have been in San Francisco , looking out over the bay, perhaps a foggy day, listening to the fog horns from the passing ships.
One of Fred's most cherished memories was to watch the many ferry boats that would steam back and forth. Fred, as you may know went on to have a great appreciation for ferry boats. As a matter of fact, my brother Danny was a Captain on the Staten Island Ferry in NY and actually escorted Fred up into the wheelhouse for a trip across NY harbor.
Fred's favorite ferry was the City of San Raphael, he describes later in his book how later in life he traveled back to San Francisco inquired and found the City of San Raphael half sunken along the bay banks.... "I followed her whale-back shape up to the mud banks of Sausalito, where she's been rotting for more than twenty years, now completely lopsided and about to collapse. Her superstructure must be leaning over at an angle of forty degrees, and an old hermit lives in what is left of her upper deck. I walked inside , putting my feet into the remains of the paddle wheels. I guess it is a way into my past, almost a part of me."
Fred would seek out and embrace life experience..like the time he traveled by himself 400 miles to Yosemite national park and while sitting on a cliff overlooking his camp, he pondered "at the bottom of this granite wall, there in that valley, I had once been able to talk without stuttering."
These were life moments for Fred, and because of his profound memory and intelligence, everything had an effect on his development.
Did you know that Fred survived a major earthquake. When it erupted others panicked, he just sat quietly in a tall arm chair until it was over!
Fred's happiest childhood memories were of family trips east across the United States by train and back to California by steamship and across the Panama Canal.
Fred would forever love boats and travel.
You may know, that early in life, Fred was a severe stutterer.
It started suddenly at around age 3 and would last his entire life, however you would never know Fred to be a stutterer. But stuttering would go on to be his life's challenge and conquering it, his greatest achievement!
Fred had wonderful parents who always loved and encouraged him no matter the speech impediment. Fred was very proud and consoled by the fact that both would live long enough to hear and see his fluent speech and boast how proud they were of him.
But imagine if you will, growing up in the 1930s and 1940s, one world war over and another about to begin. The public sentiment was not very favorable to people with severe stuttering. When you read the book, you will experience the pain and humiliation that Fred suffered through in the childhood laughter, cruel teasing in his school years and as a private in the US Army, against all odds, only to persevere and grow stronger from every experience. To not only master speech, but to later become one of the world's foremost experts on speech impediments, lecturing to audiences of hundreds, and learning to speak fluently Spanish and French as well, is astounding. The fear of speaking to an audience is listed as the greatest fear possessed by the average person! How much more difficult was this for Fred.
Fred did persevere, he was on a mission to determine the cause and cure, and nothing was going to stop him. He enrolled in Public speaking classes, attended hundreds of hours of psychological sessions, everywhere he traveled, not only in the US but throughout the world, Fred would study how other therapists treated stuttering, and he was a sponge. Learning all he could, not only from noted authorities but experiencing practical application on the world stage. Fred even once travelled to Calcutta, India simply because an old professor had asked him to help a young man that was stuttering.
Fred stated that all these things only made him more determined to succeed at his Quest for perfect speech.
This reminds me of two quotes from the 1970 Apollo 13 mission control director...when told that NASA was about to experience their worst disaster, his reply was " with all do respect sir, I believe this will be our finest hour.!" The other was "failure is not an option!"
Fred epitomized that ethic long before Apollo 13.
He worked tirelessly...Nothing was given, everything earned.
Fred never blamed anyone for teasing him, for being hard on him, citing that "you need thick skin yes but most importantly a great sense of humor."
He described how he tried to introduce himself to a stranger at a party. He said my name is F-F-F-F-F Fred. and the reply was I'll just call you Fred for short. Well Fred laughed and laughed, it broke the ice and he went on to have a great time at the party.
I remember a story Fred told me about giving a travel lecture to a rather large audience of over 100 people. He was presenting slides of his recent trip to France. Suddenly, in the middle of the talk, one of the slides jammed in the projector. Fred calmly walked over, took the slide out, examined it and placed it back into the unit. The audience murmured because the slide was upside down. Fred quickly took the slide out, held it at arms length, placed it back into the slot and the audience giggled because the slide was now backwards. Well a slide has for sides and front and back, there are 8 possible positions and Fred proceeded to rearrange the slide for every possible angle, each time laughter, and on the 8th try he got it right and the audience exploded with laughter and gave him a standing ovation. Fred always laughed and laughed telling that story. It was stories like that Fred would crank a devilish little boy smile and laugh.
Fred never did like mechanical things like projectors or VCRs or even computers. It always amazed me that he could organize world travel itineraries strictly by phone and no computer. A computer always hurt his eyes. Fred was much more comfortable surrounded by the tangible feel of his books, his laleque glass, and his paintings.
Fred enjoyed politics. He had lived to see 15 presidents!, from Herbert Hoover to Donald Trump. He was keenly interested in the goings on in Washington. He used to call President Bill Clinton "the Fair-haired boy", or any political jockeying as "phoney bologna".
Fred was a loyal friend, and as we know determined.
He often told the story of visiting his great friend of over 60 years, Bill Ronny. Bill had a winter home in New Mexico and Fred decided to visit during a particularly heavy snowstorm.
When Fred arrived at the airport he was surprised to hear from the Hertz rental office that his car was not available and that the only vehicle they had was a 16 passenger van! Not to be undeterred Fred said "I'll take it!!" You can imagine Bills surprise that not only Fred made it there during a snowstorm but in a 16 passenger van!!
But that's the love of a true friend.
Both Fred and Bill were at my sons wedding. Fred was at my brothers funeral. Fred was at one of my best friend's funeral. Fred was at our home most every Easter. Fred did this effortlessly because that's who he was. Always giving, never wanting anything in return.
He learned early to engage, to immerse himself into something that's interests him. It was Fred's older brother that convinced him to study Spanish. Fred loved the language and would seek out anyone who spoke Spanish, during his travels and his frequent trips to Epcot.
I remember the first of many trips we took, to Epcot. At the back turn of Epcot, Outside of Morocco, Fred excused himself that he had to make an important phone call. I sat off in the distance and from an outside phone booth I could hear Fred yelling "Sell Sell!"... he was on the phone with a broker. But I was 24 at the time and all these things were new to me, and I was enthralled.
There at Epcot he was transported back to Europe where he can speak Spanish and converse with French waiters at Chefs de France, where Fred was always given priority and his own table. It was so proud to see Fred converse with everyone, at Epcot, or during the monthly dinners we shared at Bon Appetite Restaurant in Dunedin.
Great influencers on his life...his loving parents, his family, noted speech pathologists and therapists as Mabel Gifford and Dr Van Riper. King Edward of England who was a severe stutterer and whose Royal family would go on and inspire Fred his entire life, evident of the many photos of Queen Elizabeth in his home and naming every cat he ever had after the members of the royal family.
He was great friends with the famous American theologian Albert Sweitzer, and with the great American playwright Thornton Wilder. Frederico also had a long friendship with Frank (Kathy Lee) Gifford the famous NY Giant and sports broadcaster.
Dr. Fredrick Murray was an exceptional professor. "Stuttering is Organic, meaning it's something that comes from within the nervous system. A person stutters at no fault of their own. However, for someone to overcome this disability, you cannot hide your stuttering, embrace it, control it then vigorously pursue the things in this world you are passionate about."
Dr. Murray also emphasized exercise, he would write, "engage in exercise regularly, get outside and walk, play tennis, ski, swim. Exercise is good for the nervous system and is wonderful for combating depression and getting one's mind off frustrations."
During his tenure as professor at the University of New Hampshire, during the summers, Fred loved to swim at Wheelwrights pond. He would write, "I like the freshness of the water, the water lilies and the rooty smells near the grassy shore". (I imagine Fred would often think of this as he looked off from his porch over Lake Tarpon).
Fred said "About 500 feet out into the pond, there is a rock that rises just above the surface. The neighborhood children called this "Murray's Rock". It's was a convenient spot for resting a bit and catching my breath before I continued on. "
We were with Fred those last few days, one of the first things I said to him was , how's your Spanish, he enthusiastically proclaimed "intact"!
In his last hours he spoke fluently the praise and love for everyone. His nephew Bob and his niece Marilyn--(who Fred always said "was the apple of my eye") helping him with illnesses and other family matters. Supervising to tear down his old home and build him an exquisite paradise overlooking the lake.
He was so thankful to Gary and for June being there for him. For the many years of help and companionship. Many thanks to his dear friends Adam, Olivier and Terry.
In those final moments, while Fred was lying on the bed overlooking Lake Tarpon, the doorbell rang. In came a young man with a University of South Florida polo shirt on. My first impression was that he was a representative of the Speech Pathology program. Not really...he was a student, who stuttered. Fred had taken him to dinner, presented his book and proceeded to help him in any way he could. The young man was there to show his respect.
How moving it was to see this young man stand next to Fred's bed, taking his hand and thanking him for what Fred did for him! I think now what a perfect finish to a wonderful life.
Fred knew the love of God and experienced that not only in the days and final hours but also early in life. (Read from book page 121 The story of Lourdes France experience)
So as you ALL swim through life, when you are down, life gets difficult and you're tired...look to Murray's Rock, rest, get your strength, persevere and swim on.
God Bless you Frederico. We are all better to have known you. We will love you and will never forget you dear Friend.
Fred said that Moses was a stutterer. I can see Fred now, introducing himself to Moses at the gates of heaven, he puts his arms around Moses and as he walks away I can hear him say "Stuttering is Organic, meaning it's something that comes from within the nervous system. A person stutters at no fault of their own. However, for someone to overcome this disability, you cannot hide your stuttering, embrace it, control it then vigorously pursue the things in this world you are passionate about."
March 8, 2019