Rev. Daniel Murray, 80, longtime educator at Loyola Blakefield

January 07, 2003|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

The Rev. Daniel Bradley Murray, S.J., a longtime educator at Loyola Blakefield high school who introduced computers to the school's campus in Towson, died of a brain tumor Sunday at St. Joseph University's Jesuit residence in Lower Merion, Pa. He was 80.

Until his final illness, Father Murray, with his tousled white hair, black-rimmed glasses and wide smile, was a familiar and welcoming presence to Loyola students, faculty and parents for 30 years.

He made it a point to attend all student activities -- often sitting alone in a corner, grading papers as his bobbing head kept a sharp eye on whatever action was unfolding.

Born and raised in Brooklyn, N.Y., he was the son of Thomas E. Murray Jr., a former federal Atomic Energy Commission member and founder of Metropolitan Device Corp., a national manufacturer of electronic components. His grandfather, Thomas E. Murray Sr., a collaborator of Thomas A. Edison, designed the socket for his incandescent light bulb. He also planned and built the world's first electric power plant for Edison Electric Light Co. on New York's 14th Street.

Interested in math and science as a youngster, Daniel Murray attended Loyola School in Manhattan, and graduated from Georgetown Preparatory School in Garrett Park in 1939. He attended Georgetown University until entering the Society of Jesus in 1942, and was ordained at Woodstock College in 1954.

Father Murray subsequently earned bachelor's and master's degrees in philosophy and theology from Georgetown University, and began teaching math and physics at Georgetown Prep in 1956. There in 1968, he became one of the first educators in the nation to introduce computer technology to a high school.

He left the school in 1972 to head the alumni program at Wheeling College in West Virginia for a year, before joining the faculty at Loyola Blakefield in Towson -- and, as at Georgetown Prep, he brought the school into the computer era. He also taught physics and math and was chairman of the math department.

He also had been treasurer of the Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus.

"He was an institution at Blakefield," said the Rev. James F. McAndrews, S.J., former president of Loyola Blakefield and now pastor of St. Theresa Roman Catholic Church in Mooresville, N.C. "He had a great interest in all of the students. He was the kind of person who thought that schools were for the students and that everything should be geared to them, and them alone."

He also recalled Father Murray's high academic standards, and vigilance for students having trouble in their studies -- he offered them help coupled with encouragement.

Some years ago, when a Loyola Blakefield student broke his back, Father Murray came to the rescue, teaching him how to use a computer with a pencil placed in his mouth. The student was able to graduate from high school and earn a college degree.

His tutoring program grew into Murray Learning Services, which assists Loyola students who have special learning needs.

"He was a man who liked simplicity and didn't stand for fluff. He liked things both simple and direct and that's what endeared him to so many people," said Father McAndrews.

"He was boundlessly kind," said Vincent Fitzpatrick III, an English teacher at Loyola for 24 years. "Father Murray was an exceptionally intelligent and self-effacing man. He cared deeply about the students he taught and tutored, and they had great respect and affection for him."

In addition to his high school work, Father Murray established the computer laboratory and taught computer classes at Loyola College during the 1970s and 1980s.

"He was ahead of his time and innovative. In the late 1960s, the only places that had computers were big universities and companies," said Bernard J. Weigman, professor of physics and computer science at the North Baltimore college. "He latched onto the microcomputer, or desktop computer, and felt it was a much better way of teaching. He was a great proponent of the personal computer."

After retiring in 1998, Father Murray continued designing computer programs for departments at Loyola Blakefield and tutored pupils at Sacred Heart School in Glyndon.

A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 7 p.m. Thursday at the chapel of Loyola Blakefield, 500 Chestnut Ave.

He is survived by five brothers, Thomas C. Murray of Santa Barbara, Calif., James B. Murray of Earlysville, Va., Joseph G. Murray of New London, Conn., and Paul B. Murray and Frank B. Murray, both of New Canaan, Conn.; and three sisters, Anne O'Niel of Aurora, Ohio, Jane M. Sheridan of New York City and Margot O'Mara of Greenwich, Conn.

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