Edgar Allen Murray, 85, bred thoroughbreds for two decades

March 10, 1998|By Robert Hilson Jr. | Robert Hilson Jr.,SUN STAFF

Edgar Allen Murray, a Harford County racehorse breeder whose love of horses began when he worked odd jobs around racetracks as a boy, died Wednesday of heart failure at his son's horse farm in Darlington.

"He was around horses all of his life," said the son, E. Allen Murray Jr. of Darlington. "In the beginning it was the excitement. Later, it was just a love for horses."

For the past 20 years, Mr. Murray, 85, had lived at Murmur Farms, a thoroughbred nursery where he and his son bred


Mr. Murray's fascination with horses began when he was a boy and frequented the old Havre de Grace racetrack several times a week to sell programs and sandwiches that his mother made and to walk "hots" after races.

"He was only 12 when he walked the hots and made a quarter for doing it," daughter Mary Holt of Bradshaw said of the walks around the track Mr. Murray made with horses to cool them after races.

Mr. Murray did all sorts of other jobs around the stables, many of them requiring a shovel and boots.

But Mr. Murray learned to groom and handle horses from the horsemen he encountered daily. He also heard countless horse stories from the stablemen, trainers and jockeys who passed through the barn.

"He loved to hear the old stories, he loved those best," his son said. "With those stories and with his stories each had two to three undisputable facts, two to three half-truths and two to three bare-faced lies. That's probably why they were so interesting."

A lifelong resident of Harford County and one of 11 children, Mr. Murray quit school in 1924 when he was age 12 to work at the old Willow Theatre, which later became State Theatre, in Havre de Grace.

He worked all sorts of jobs at the theater, but retired as the projectionist in 1943. In those days, being the projectionist bore more responsibility than being the manager.

He worked at the theater during the era of silent movies, and the theater presented stage shows when it did not show movies. Mr. Murray enjoyed the live performances.

After he left the theater, he worked as a physical science aide in the Ballistic Research Laboratory at Aberdeen Proving Ground.

He retired in 1970 and devoted most of his time to breeding horses at the Murmur Farm.

"He knew about horses because he wanted to learn about horses," said Samuel Grossman of Havre de Grace, who knew Mr. Murray during his days at the Havre de Grace racetrack. "Good horsemen are hard to find. He was a good one."

Services were held Saturday.

He married Mollie Boyd in 1932. She died in 1976. In addition to his son and daughter, he is survived by another son, Richard Murray of Churchville; two daughters, Carol McGowan of Queenstown and Sharon Ferrell of Churchville; a sister, Margaret Carver of Bel Air; 11 grandchildren; and 14 great-grandchildren.

Pub Date: 3/10/98

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