Thomas Allen Murray, 67, of Cerro Gordo, IL, passed away at Decatur Memorial Hospital on Monday evening, May 27, 2013, following a long battle with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).
Tom was born on August 12, 1945, in Seattle, WA, to Jesse M. and M. Irene (Walters) Murray. His parents and grandparents preceded him in death. He is survived by his brother David (Susie) Murray of Peoria, IL; his life partner Nancy Gorrell of Cerro Gordo, IL; his aunt Sylvia (Walters) Urang of Wooster, OH; and his cousins, nieces, nephews, and great-nieces and great-nephews.
His family would like to express their sincere thanks to Nancy Gorrell and her extended family, to Dr. Geraldine Wirth and the Gold Star team at the Decatur VA Clinic, and to the staff and doctors at Decatur Memorial Hospital for their care and support over the years and in the final days of his life. Finally, words cannot express the gratitude we have for Tom’s many friends in the Cerro Gordo and Decatur area who encouraged him every day, as he struggled with COPD the last few years.
Tom graduated from Cerro Gordo High School in 1963. He was employed at General Cable Co. in Monticello, IL following high school, and then worked for Norfolk & Western Railroad, where he rose to the position of yardmaster in the Decatur, IL facility. Tom later worked at Firestone, Crown Cork & Seal, The Chimney Doctor, Cookson Cable as a contract TV cable installer and, prior to his retirement in 2008, as a truck driver for Braden & Son Trucking Co. in Maroa, IL.
Tom served in the U.S. Army from 1966 to 1969, and was stationed near Frankfurt, Germany for the majority of his time in service. He was also a long-time member of the American Legion, Post #117, in Cerro Gordo, IL.
Along with his brother, David, and David and Dick Reed, he co-sponsored an annual American Legion scholarship honoring their mothers Irene Murray and Flossie Reed, both former teachers in the Cerro Gordo school system. The Reed-Murray Scholarship, established in 1999, awards an annual scholarship to a graduating senior at Cerro Gordo High School who is pursuing a college education.
Tom had a life-long love of animals and nature, and was known for raising several litters of raccoon babies. He even kept them as pets in and outside his home, to the delight of his nieces and nephews when they came to visit. He also loved to care for the squirrels in the trees near his yard, hand-feeding Oreo cookies to the bravest of them. During the 1990’s, Tom and his dog “Baby” were frequently seen in and around Decatur, with “Baby” sitting on the gas tank of Tom’s beloved Harley Davidson while they cruised the streets together.
Growing up in the 50’s and 60’s, Tom was known for fast cars and a penchant for living life on the edge. Those who knew him back then would say he embodied the spirits of James Dean, Elvis Presley and “The Fonz”, all rolled into one. But as he aged and mellowed over the years, he will be remembered as a loving big brother, a loyal and trusted friend and a real man’s man. He will be greatly missed.
Cremation rites have been accorded. In compliance with Tom’s wishes, there will be no local visitation or services. In essence, his family and friends held a “living memorial service” for Tom, as they loyally visited him at his home in Cerro Gordo and during his final days in the Decatur Memorial Hospital. Each visit was a walk down memory lane and an opportunity to create just one more memory with Tom. His ashes will be buried next to the graves of his parents and grandparents at the Drake Cemetery, located adjacent to the Missionary Baptist Church in Fairbanks, IN, where private family services will be held.
Memorials may be made to Homeward Bound Pet Shelter or the Decatur & Macon County Animal Shelter Foundation, or a charity of the donor’s choice.
Online condolences may be made to the family at the Brintlinger & Earl Funeral Home’s web site, at www.brintlingerandearl.com.