Valerie Y. Murray, 87: Devoted life to faith, family and science
FREEPORT — Valerie Young Murray, 87, died Aug. 8 at her home in Freeport.
Murray was born Jan. 9, 1927, in Augusta, to Cecil Knowlton and Ida Muriel (Young) Knowlton. As a child, she lived with her mother and grandparents, Daniel S. Young Jr. and Maud Young, who raised her and her sister, Patricia.
She was educated in Augusta schools, and graduated in 1945 as the valedictorian of Cony High School. She then attended Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, graduating in 1949 with a bachelor's degree in biology. It was at Smith that she developed what would be lifelong friendships with Leigh Berrien Smith and Rose Sun Tchang.
Following Smith, Valerie moved to Boston for graduate work at Radcliffe College, and received her Ph.D. in 1956. In Boston, she was a member of the historic Park Street Church, led then by the Rev. Harold Ockenga, founder of the National Association of Evangelicals and, later, of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. It was during her time at Park Street that she committed herself to an evangelical faith that she treasured for the rest of her life.
She then moved to Philadelphia and attended Westminster Theological Seminary. There, she met her future husband, John Murray, a longtime faculty member and author of well-regarded theological texts.
In 1958, she joined the faculty of Woman’s Medical College, the first medical institution in the world established to train women in medicine. Her research focused on the neurological development of the embryonic avian brain, and led to the publication of many scientific articles. Living in Philadelphia, she enjoyed being near her sister and nephews in New Jersey.
In 1967, she left teaching and research and moved to Scotland, where she married John Murray on Dec. 7. The couple had two children, Logan and Anne Margaret. John died in May 1975, and Anne Margaret died the next year at age 4, following a severe asthma attack. Valerie then devoted herself to raising Logan and participating in her church community.
In 1981, she and her son moved to Augusta, where she cared for her aging mother. Murray also soon became active in the life and ministry of Merrymeeting Bay Orthodox Presbyterian Church, in Brunswick. In 2003, she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, and in 2008 moved to Freeport, where she lived with her son and his family.
She will be remembered by those who knew her as a person of generous spirit and compassionate heart.
She is survived by her son and daughter-in-law, Logan Murray and Mary MacDonald-Murray, and grandsons Joshua, Caleb and Seth Murray, all of Freeport; her sister and brother-in-law, Patricia Paine-Dougherty and Robert E. Dougherty, of Princeton, New Jersey; nephew Thomas Hooker Paine Jr. and wife, Lisa, of Sarasota, Florida; nephew John K. Paine and wife, Patricia, of Montclair, New Jersey; and nephew F. Rodney Paine and partner, Li Chen Chang, of New York.
For their devotion during Murray's illness, the family wishes to thank her faithful home caregivers, Jane Pulk, Patricia Walden, Louisa Picard and Jenna Hutchinson-Dumais; the Rev. Gordon Cook Jr., and his wife, Pam; the nurses of CHANS Hospice, especially Jo-Ellyn Sturgeon; and David Salko.
Memorial donations can be made to the Merrymeeting Bay Orthodox Presbyterian Church Building Fund, P.O. Box 6020, Brunswick, ME 04011.