By Joe Barkovich, Scribbler-at-large
Don Murray was what I like to think of as an “upper” – always upbeat, upstanding, uplifting. He was warm and welcoming, always with a smile on his face and a story on his lips.
Mr. Murray, who died Monday, May 14, aged 83, was a well known and successful Welland business owner. His firm began as Crown Delivery in 1954, became Crown Moving and then Crown Trucking Services, from which he retired in 2012. His funeral was held Friday, May 25.
Many of the memories of him on the Cudney Funeral Home website are tributes to his effervescence and joie de vivre.
“Don’s wit and smile will never be forgotten,” is an excerpt of one.
“I can’t help but laugh remembering the good times when Don would visit the plant, International Bakery pastries in hand and break out into his routine. Who could work after that visit. Always left you with a smile on your face,” and, “He was such a fun loving man, always giving a hug when you would run into him,” are two others.
His beaming smile could easily be my lasting image of this gentle man but I have another.
It goes back to a December night in 1972 when thousands of Wellanders had gathered along the canal in downtown Welland to celebrate the end of an historic era. It was the ceremonial, last raising of the Main Street bridge to allow upbound passage of the freighter, Georgian Bay, the last vessel to pass through the heart of the city.
But it was not the only craft to catch the attention of that sea of onlookers that evening.
As the late Welland historian and author, William H. Lewis wrote, “Minutes before the huge Canada Steamship Lines vessel approached the bridge, a small motorboat appeared, seemingly out of nowhere. Named the Spirit of Welland, the tiny craft, glowing with Christmas lights and with three local men aboard, proudly displayed a large sign proclaiming in bold letters: “Not the End but the Beginning.”
Mr. Lewis identified the scene stealers in a footnote: “The three adventurers aboard the motorboat were Welland businessmen Peter Kauffman, Malcolm McIntyre and Donald Murray,” he wrote. (Page 205, 206, A History of the City of Welland, Volume 3.)
The sign’s message was the essence of Mr. Murray’s (and I’m sure the two others) outlook: try to look at things, look at life from a positive viewpoint, not a negative. What they did that evening is a small part in Welland’s history that deserves to be remembered. It’s a lasting image that reminds me still of this well liked, much admired Wellander.
(Lasting Image appears on the blog as an occasional feature.)