He leaves his beloved wife of 60 years and best friend, Barbro, their children, Martin (Joyce) and Ingrid (George) West, and his sister Jean (Eddie) Cooper. Murray will also be fondly remembered by his five grandchildren, Erik, Ryan, Ben, Casey and Alicia; his brother- and sister-in-law, Göran and Ulla Winberg; four nieces and nephews; and many other family members and close friends. He was predeceased by his parents, Eric and Minnie (Cohen) Gendell and Aaron Wartell, and his brother, Seymour.
Murray had a life-long love of books, numbers and education. From the time he was a young boy in New York, one of his favorite past-times was going to the library where he spent countless hours reading to satisfy his innate curiosity. He graduated from high school at the age of 16 and fulfilled his dream of going to college after completing his military service in 1947, earning a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University in 1950, and a Ph.D. in Sociology from Columbia University in 1963.
He married the love of his life in 1958 and quickly embraced her Swedish heritage. Over the next decade, they lived in Stockholm (where he studied and became fluent in Swedish), then in New York, Switzerland and Berkeley, CA before settling in Northern Virginia in 1966. They raised their children in Alexandria, retired in Springfield, and spent his final year in Arlington.
Murray was Professor of Sociology, Emeritus, at Georgetown University where he played a key role in the establishment of GU’s Department of Sociology in the late 1960s and later the Department of Demography, which he chaired from 1982 through 1986, while also serving as Director of the Center for Population Research from 1984 through 1986. He had a particular interest in workforce and retirement trends, and was still analyzing labor statistics and updating numerous publications on the subject well into his 90s. His legacy at Georgetown includes countless students who credit his extraordinary teaching and course development abilities as having a profound impact on their own careers.
In his personal life, Murray was likewise an outstanding conversationalist with a keen sense of humor and natural ability to engage others in stimulating discussions on a wide variety of subjects. He was a devoted friend and treasured those bonds deeply, many of which dated back to his childhood or early adult life.
He was a peaceful and giving man with a gentle spirit, an avid bird watcher who was also fond of cats – one in particular whose favorite place was always the crook of Murray’s arm. His happiest moments included traveling with his wife whom he adored fiercely, hosting gatherings of friends and family in their home, and spending time with his children and grandchildren in whom he took much pride.
The Celebration of Murray’s life will take place at 2:30pm on Saturday April 27 at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington, 4444 Arlington Blvd., Arlington, VA. For reception planning purposes, please let us know if you plan to attend by emailing [email protected]