John Thomas Murray, founder of KZIQ AM and FM, died peacefully on Dec. 14, 2012, in Ridgecrest. He was 92.
His wife Dianne and sister-in-law Cecile Therese Beresford, Congregation of St. Joseph of Carondelet (CSJ), were at his side when he passed away. Rev. Walter Anderson, Sr., Therese Denham, CSJ, and Fr. James Dowds were also present.
Viewing will be Friday, Dec. 21, from 5-7 p.m. at the H.K. Holland Memorial Chapel. Rosary will be at 6:30 p.m., and the funeral will be at the All Faith Chapel, Saturday, Dec. 22, at 10 a.m. Burial will follow at Desert Memorial Park. A reception will follow in the East Wing of the chapel.
John was born in Troy, N.Y., on Easter Sunday, April 4, 1920, during a raging snowstorm. He attended St. Patrick Elementary School, Troy Catholic High and Troy High School. Always interested in airplanes, especially antiques, John took flying lessons at the Troy Airport as a teenager and had a few tall tales to tell from those days.
He enlisted in the U. S. Army in November 1942 and was honorably discharged in March 1946, soon leaving for California to attend the Northrop School of Aviation, where he worked on the original flying wing.
John and Dianne were married at St. Ann Church in Ridgecrest by his brother, Gavin Murray, on July 1, 1967. Both John and Dianne had their pilots’ licenses and for a while their own airplane — a four-seat Piper Archer 2. Their Scottie, Angus, grew to be a good flyer and would sleep on the back seat. Earlier, they owned a San Diego-based 36-foot Brown Trimaran and drove back and forth to sail on weekends.
John was sent to China Lake to work on a 30-day task and was asked to stay. Thus began his civil service career. Asked by KLOA to report on President John F. Kennedy’s visit. John did the broadcast from on top of Hanger Three.
He retired in 1966 and worked for KLOA. His evening program, “Murray Mikeside,” featured good easy-listening music and jazz. John began building KZIQ-AM in 1970 and added KZIQ-FM in 1974.
A major heart attack in 1977 slowed him down for a while, and, upon his cardiologist’s advice, he sold the stations in 1986, eliminating a source of stress.
John was dedicated to keeping himself healthy and began a daily walking and running program. He started with walking and then running three miles a day around the China Lake Golf Course. He also enjoyed playing golf and did so for many years, enjoying the company of his friends and, occasionally, Dianne and dog Angus. John was a loyal Rotarian and served as president in 1983-84.
John and Dianne enjoyed traveling and have been to Jamaica, Italy, Japan, Korea (a media tour he was invited to join) and Hawaii.
At a fundraising dinner at the Enlisted Men’s Club in 1991, he bid $25 for the privilege of conducting the then-new Big Band X-Press. He insisted on doing “Take the A Train.” His efforts were met with enthusiasm.
John and Dianne bought a home about 1988 and refurbished the interior, doing most of the work themselves. He was very proud of his new home and worked hard to get the yard in shape. “These days, people tell us it looks like a park!” said Dianne.
They began attending the Los Angeles Jazz Festival at the Marriott Hotel about 1990 and did so for at least 10 years.
They also purchased a used Airstream trailer and enjoyed many years of camping in the Sierras, especially in the June Lake Loop area. John was also an avid fisherman and lived to fish the lakes in upper Yosemite Park.As John’s health began to fade, his activities were somewhat curtailed.
He leaves behind his wife Dianne; brothers Francis, Paul, Donald and James Murray; and sisters Bernadette Gettings, Rosemary Lattof and Joanne Caron as well as many nieces and nephews.
Submitted by the family of John Thomas MurrayStory First Published: 2012-12-19