When Oconee County Coroner Ed Carson traveled the unkept dirt driveway up to the old frame house outside Athens to begin an investigation July 30, he found a man with no known next of kin. Murray was a loner, a man who mostly kept to himself at the rental house secluded in a cove of trees.
Four days later, Carson finally located a distant relative who had moved to Texas from South Dakota.
"The one relative I spoke to said they tried to locate him 20 years ago and couldn't," Carson said.
Few people knew Murray, whose remains were cremated.
Grant Satterfield, a neighbor who lived nearby, described him as a loner.
And while he had few friends, there are probably many who unknowingly own a piece of his creative handiwork. Murray made custom jewelry.
"He was an unbelievably talented artist," said Keith Anderson, the owner of T.K. Anderson Designs, who hired Murray about 15 years ago to work for his Athens store.
"We do custom jewelry so we do what the customer wants and he did the carving end of that, but he could do any kind of jewelry work," said Anderson, who agreed to handle final arrangements.
Although Murray left his employment with Anderson about five years ago, they maintained a friendship and it was Anderson who looked after Murray, who had turned 71 and had heart and lung problems. Two weeks before his death, Anderson took Murray to a doctor and it was Anderson who found his body when he made another visit July 30.
Murray was originally from San Diego, Calif., and divorced at least 25 years ago, Anderson said.
"He didn't have any children, no brothers or sisters, and his parents were deceased. He didn't stay in contact with anyone but his ex-wife," Anderson said.
Murray, who was a member of the Mensa Society, loved music, history and photography, Anderson said. And he excelled at creating pieces of jewelry with a bent toward Celtic patterns.
"He won several design contests. He did some pieces -- I don't know where he pulled them from -- but when you saw them it made everybody smile," Anderson said. "He was knowledgeable in so many areas. He studied every different kind of religion known to man. He could tell you everything you needed to know about the Napoleonic wars. He was an expert on that."
And he had a clear strong voice.
"To hear him talk you'd have thought he should have been a radio announcer," he said.
But his life parted in the quiet of his home.
"We both knew the time was coming," Anderson said. "He had talked about doing a will, but we really didn't want to deal with it much."