Originally created 12/15/01

Featured obituary: Wayne J. Murrah



Wayne J. Murrah loved God, his family and his country, relatives said Friday.

Mr. Murrah, a veteran of two wars and two branches of the armed services, died Wednesday at his Aiken home after a battle with cancer. He was 74.

When World War II broke out, Mr. Murrah lied about his age to enter the Navy at 17, said his youngest daughter, Sherrill Widener of New Ellenton.

Mr. Murrah went on to serve in both World War II and the Korean War, earning a Purple Heart, five victory medals and four battle stars for his service.

He served in two branches of the armed forces, joining the Army to become a paratrooper after his naval service, Ms. Widener said.

Mr. Murrah continued to serve his nation in other ways after he left the military. He worked to integrate Pony League baseball in Augusta in 1966, inviting three black children to join a team he was coaching, said Tommy Murrah, the second of his five sons.

"He caught a little bit of flak, for sure, but he stuck with it and it worked out," Tommy Murrah said.

His children said Mr. Murrah was an outgoing, friendly and helpful man. He would spend hours playing with his grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and was not above an occasional practical joke, family members said.

"He was always coaching baseball and helping with basketball and those kinds of things," Tommy Murrah said. "He did anything for kids in general.

"He never met a kid he didn't love, and he never met a person he didn't like. He would do anything for anybody. He was always willing to reach out to other people.

"He enjoyed life, and he enjoyed people."

Mr. Murrah is survived by his wife, Mary Williams of Aiken; five sons, Johnnie Terry Murrah of Hephzibah, Tommy Murrah of Durham, N.C., Albert Wayne Murrah of Aiken, Wayne J. Murrah of Augusta and Bill Williams of North Augusta; two daughters, Sherrill Widener of New Ellenton and Mary E. Dheel of Beech Island; a brother, Joseph B. Murrah of Augusta; a sister, Betty Joyce Bailey of Hephzibah; 14 grandchildren; and eight great-grandchildren.

A native of Aiken County, Mr. Murrah was a former resident of Richmond County. He was a life member of AMVETS Post No. 12 and a member of American Legion Post 0169 in New Ellenton.

Funeral services will be held at 1 p.m. today in the chapel of Platt's Funeral Home, 721 Crawford Ave. in Augusta. The Rev. Brancie Stephens will officiate.

Burial will be in Hillcrest Memorial Park with military honors.

Reach Brandon Haddock at (706) 823-3409 or bhaddock@augustachronicle.com.