UCSB lecturer Lex Murray was a frequent visitor of the Corner Store. There he would hand pick candy that would later grace the desks of his co-workers and students. And with the candy, Murray would bring a smile and often, encouraging words.
On Friday, April 14, students, friends and family gathered in memory of the 42-year-old Murray at the RecCen Garden Court. Murray died in an auto accident along Highway 154 on March 20.
Attendants shared thoughts and memories and recounted stories about Murray. Some shed tears, but the stories about a man who brought joy and shared many jokes to those lives he was in contact with mostly brought laughter and smiles to the gatherers.
“I don’t know of a single person I have met who hasn’t smiled and said good things about Lex. Lex was loved and respected by all. He was a special person,” said Jon Spaventa, department director of physical activities and recreation.
These thoughts were echoed by Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Michael Young.
“When I heard that we had lost Lex Murray, I have said we have lost one of our own. We have lost and I have lost a good friend. We have lost and I have lost a colleague. We all have lost a great man,” Young said. “I remember vividly the day he tried to show me how to operate the work-out machines. I was pitiful, but Lex was patient. We both laughed as he tried to instruct me on the proper usage of the machines. … Lex always made me feel good, but I will always miss his smile and good feelings that he engendered.”
It is estimated that Murray was in contact with over 15,000 UCSB students through his sports psychology and physical activities classes. One student was junior communication major Max Lishansky.
“He was a super compassionate guy, who truly cared about all of us,” he said. “Every time I was up there and passed by his office, his door was always open. And he would always be sitting there saying ‘Hi’ to everyone, with a huge smile on his face. He truly cared. You could tell.”
In his own words, Lex Murray said, “The most important thing in life is the quality of relationships we have with others.”
Theater arts major ChantŽ Frierson sung “Amazing Grace” to close the memorial service, but many lingered around to share more memories.
Murray’s career at UCSB began 15 years ago with a brief tenure as the assistant coach of the women’s basketball team. He was then active in the development in the UCSB Fitness Center and the founding of the UCSB women’s golf team.
Born Jan. 5, 1959, in Santa Rosa, Calif., Murray’s passion for golf began at an early age. At age 13, with a six under par (64), he set the Bennet Valley Golf Course record and went on to qualify for the United States Association Junior Champions in 1973 and 1975.
Officers at the California Highway Patrol station in Buellton are investigating the auto crash as a suicide and would not comment.