John F. McMurtry of Columbia, Mo. passed away peacefully on February 19, 2018 at 1:35 p.m. He was 87 years old.
Mr. McMurtry was born on September 7, 1930 in Hickman, Ky. into a share cropping family in a log cabin with no running water or electricity. He was a humble man born into humble conditions. He graduated from Alamo High School in 1948 and served in the Korea War with the 82nd Anti-Aircraft Battalion, 2nd Division starting in 1952. After the armistice was signed, he was stationed in Pittsburgh, Pa. where he met Emma Lee Linn. After a whirlwind romance of three months, they were married in October, 1954. They moved to Knoxville, Tenn. where their son James Madison (Matt) was born in 1956. They subsequently moved to Pittsburgh where daughter Melanie Maye was born in 1961 and then to Washington, Pa. where their son John Mark was born in 1962.
After 11 years of night school, Mr. McMurtry graduated with a B.S. in Industrial Engineering from the last class of Carnegie Institute of Technology in 1967, which is now known as Carnegie Mellon University. In 1968 he purchased and operated Washington Paint and Glass until his retirement.
Along with his wife, Emma Lee, Mr. McMurtry was an active member of the Washington County community. He was a member of the Masons and the Church of the Covenant. He was elected as a member of the Washington School Board for 22 years, including a year as the president. He played an important role in facilitating the integration of the Washington School District and the construction of the Washington Park Elementary School.
In their retirement, the McMurtrys purchased a Woodmizer portable sawmill. They traveled to church camps across the Allegheny Mountains, milling timber for the camps to use in building projects. They never charged for labor or parts. They donated their time and expenses and would always give the camps a small donation for room and board during their stay. They also participated in mission trips to Zambia and Mexico.
In 2001, Mr. McMurtry was selected to carry the Olympic flame through the streets of Washington prior to the 2002 Winter Olympics in Utah. In 2008 they moved to Columbia to be closer to their youngest grandchildren.
Mr. McMurtry also enjoyed traveling throughout the world with his family. Highlights from his travels include Korean War reunions held across the US, two visits to the New York Stock Exchange, and multiple trips to Europe including two trips to eastern Europe before the fall of the Berlin Wall. The McMurtrys, along with John Mark and his family, also toured Iceland and the U.S. from Alaska to Florida in an RV. In Florida, they witnessed two shuttle launches and visited Walt Disney World at least 20 times, many of which he attended enthusiastically.
Mr. McMurtry is survived by his wife of 63 yrs., Emma Lee; his brother, Bill of Rivers Junction, Mich.; his children, James Madison McMurtry MD and his wife Cynthia Thomas McMurtry MD of Richmond, Va., Melanie Maye McMurtry and her husband Allen Wagner of Austin, Tex. and John Mark McMurtry MD and his wife Paula Jean McMurtry MD of Rocheport, Mo.; grandchildren, John Thomas McMurtry MD and his wife Ashley McMurtry, George Patrick McMurtry, Alexandra Linn Buffie and her husband Tyler Buffie, Amelia Wagner, Ian Matthew McMurtry and Shyla Elizabeth McMurtry; great-grandchildren, Cora Lynn and Ella Cynthia McMurtry.
His mother and father, Gilbert and May McMurtry; his two brothers, James and Thomas; and his sister, Dorothy, preceded him in death.
Funeral services were held on Thursday, February 22, 2018 at Parker-Millard Funeral Service in Columbia followed by interment with full military honors at the Missouri Veterans Cemetery in Jacksonville, Mo.
The family suggests that memorial contributions be made to the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation or to the Wounded Warrior Project.