J. Murray, Ex-mayor In Norristown

Posted: February 08, 1996

John J. Murray Jr., 71, of Norristown, a career police officer who became mayor of the borough, died Saturday at Montgomery Hospital in Norristown.

Like Philadelphia's legendary Frank L. Rizzo, Mr. Murray was a former policeman who was elected as a Democrat. ``Mr. Rizzo became aware of the similarities between them, and they became friends who visited one another,'' said a son, John J. Murray 3d.

His father made many friends, as shown by the cheers he received when he served as grand marshal of the 1995 Ancient Order of Hibernians/Norristown St. Patrick's Day Parade, the younger Murray said. ``They were expressing their thanks and love to a man who dedicated his life to the borough through 40 years of service as policeman and mayor.''

A native of the borough, Mr. Murray graduated from Norristown High School in 1943 and later attended Montgomery County Community College.

He served in the Army during World War II as a sergeant with the heavy-weapons division of the 97th Infantry in Germany, where he was wounded by a land mine.

After the service, he joined the Norristown Police Department as a beat cop. He rose to motor-patrol sergeant, detective, and became one of the department's first narcotics officers. He retired in 1973.

During his mayoralty, from 1974 to 1978, he ``upgraded the Police Department's K-9 unit and helped establish the Police Athletic League [chapter] in 1974,'' his son said.

After his term as mayor, Mr. Murray stayed active in the community. He was one of 13 founding members of the Ancient Order of Hibernians/Montgomery County Notre Dame Division I, and was elected first marshal of the group.

He was a member and past president of the Montgomery County chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police; a life member of the American Business Clubs, a charitable organization; and a member of the Pennsylvania Mayors Association.

He was a 4th-degree member of the Knights of Columbus and also belonged to the American Legion, the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Catholic War Veterans.

Besides his son John, he is survived by his wife of 50 years, Sophie Burry Murray; five other sons, Patrick, Bernard, Dennis, Michael and Knute; four sisters; two brothers; and 10 grandchildren.

Friends and relatives may call from 6 to 9 tonight and from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. tomorrow at the Boyd-Horrox Funeral Home, 200 W. Germantown Pike, East Norriton. A prayer service will be held at 8 tonight and a funeral at 9:30 a.m. tomorrow at the funeral home.

A Funeral Mass will be said at 10:30 a.m. tomorrow at St. Patrick's Roman Catholic Church, DeKalb and East Chestnut Streets, Norristown. Burial will follow in SS. Peter and Paul Ukrainian Catholic Cemetery, Church Road near Henderson Road, King of Prussia.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Widows Pension Fund of the Norristown Fraternal Order of Police, c/o Paul Scherbner, Meridian Bank, 43 E. Main St., Norristown, Pa. 19401.

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