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John Patrick Murry, 89, went to his eternal rest on April 20, 2023, at his home in Overland Park, KS surrounded by family and with the knowledge that God had him firmly in HIS hands. A rosary will be said at 9:30 AM for John on Monday, May 1, 2023, at St. Thomas More Church followed by a visitation at 10AM and Mass at 11AM. Burial will be at Mt. Olivet Cemetery at 2:30PM.
John was born in Delia, KS on December 10, 1933, to Roy and Elizabeth Murry, whom he lovingly referred to as saints. He later moved to St. Mary’s, KS where he was raised with the values that defined his life: honest, hard work from his “Daddy,” a stone mason; the importance of education from his “Momma,” an educator and school principal; love for his family, pride in his Irish Catholic heritage, and most importantly, his faith in God. He is survived by his sisters, Elizabeth Johnson and Mary Ann Swerczek; and predeceased by his parents, his brother Roy Murry, and his sister Alice Siebert.
With his parents’ encouragement he left his beloved small town to attend college. His choice was Rockhurst College in Kansas City, MO where he developed a deep admiration for the Jesuit priests. The “Jebbies” as he fondly referred to them, ignited a passion for education at all levels where he eventually applied his talents to help others achieve their life goals. Later in life, Rockhurst honored him with their Outstanding Alumnus (1990) and the Xavier Medal of Honor (2018) awards for societal contributions. John’s greatest blessing while at Rockhurst was attending a high school prom as the blind date for a beautiful senior named Mary Margaret Devine. That date resulted in 66 years of marriage and four children: John Jr., from Iowa City, IA, James Francis (deceased infant), Kathleen Parker (Randy) from Leawood, KS, and Tim Murry (Maggie) in St. Louis, MO, 11 grandchildren, six great-grandchildren, and one great-great-grandchild. He was also beloved “Uncle John” to his 40 nieces and nephews and their families. Mary Margaret was the light of his life and the only one to match wits with him. She was his love, his soul mate, and biggest supporter as they walked through a full and happy life together.
John was a humble man who was generally unimpressed by degrees, awards, or community stature but rather was drawn to people by the content of their character. Although he seldom spoke of his own professional and community involvement, his family is quite proud of his achievements. John and Mary Margaret started their life together in Topeka where he taught middle school English and coached basketball. In 1958 he went to Kansas State University as Assistant to the Dean where he advised students while pursuing a graduate degree in counseling. That led the young Murrys back to Kansas City where John served as a guidance counselor at Ruskin High School for two years before returning to Kansas State to pursue a PhD in Higher Education Administration. It was in Manhattan where they raised their family and developed lifelong friends through the University and their parish, Seven Dolors.
John’s career shifted in 1971 after completing a postdoctoral fellowship in the U.S. Department of Education in Washington D.C. He returned to Kansas State and spent most of the next 19 years as Associate Dean of the Graduate School where he helped professors secure funding so they could achieve their research goals. John’s personal experiences in Catholic educational institutions, in part, motivated his decision to become President of Marymount College in Salina, KS (1981-1985), President of Donnelly College in Kansas City, KS (1987-1998), and Interim President of Benedictine College in Atchison, KS (2004-2005). In these capacities, he chaired the Kansas Independent College Association and was President of the Kansas Catholic College Association. He also chaired or served on the boards of many key community organizations concerning literacy, early-childhood development, low-income healthcare, and educational planning. He felt particularly honored to have been elected to serve as both a member and then chairperson of the National Advisory Council to the U.S. Council of Bishops. Upon his retirement, John spearheaded his family’s effort that registered over 40,000 people into the national bone marrow registry resulting in 160 lifesaving transplants, to date.
John will be remembered for his love of people and endearing sense of humor that made everyone feel respected, heard, and loved. He was a keen observer of people and became known to friends and family for his poems and stories that humorously memorialized everyday life experiences. With encouragement from his family, he researched and wrote a book, “Whence We Came,” telling the family’s immigration story from Ireland to Kansas, leaving a precious gift for his descendants. To those who knew him, the unwritten chapter of this book is of the author himself, a good man who had a twinkle in his eye and a kind word for everyone he met.
Note from Dad: “If you can’t come to the funeral don’t worry about it, I expect to be talking to the Lord anyway. Don’t send flowers.
Instead send money to Donnelly College (https://www.donnelly.edu/give/give-now) or to the Benedictine Sisters in Atchison, KS (www.mountosb.org/donate/make-a-donation) who founded Donnelly, and is one fantastic community of women religious.”