Kenwood Press

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Obituaries: 07/01/2019

William J. Murray, former Glen Ellen fire chief

bill murray
William J. Murray, a third-generation San Franciscan and former Glen Ellen fire chief, died on June 14, 2019. Bill was born to William and Alida Murray on March 21, 1929. He attended St. Anne’s Grammar School, Lincoln High School, and City College of San Francisco where he was a trombone player and drum major in the college band.

He served in the U.S. Marine Corps during the Korean War, participating in the Inchon Invasion and later at the Battle of Chosin Reservoir, where he was fortunate to survive as one of the “Chosin Few.”

In 1956, following in his father’s and grandfather’s footsteps, he joined the San Francisco Fire Department and rose to the rank of captain. Bill was highly respected for his training techniques, firefighting innovations, and rescue procedures, and received multiple meritorious awards for valor. When he retired after 30 years, he was invited to join the Glen Ellen Volunteer Fire Department as a training officer, and later as volunteer fire chief. During his 20 years with G.E.F.D. he authored multiple grant requests resulting in new engines, equipment, training procedures and money to upgrade the stations.

Bill encouraged a love of nature and the outdoors, backpacking with his family and Boy Scout Troop 347 as he regularly led 50-mile hikes in the Sierra. His many personal projects included designing and building his home on Sonoma Mountain and creating a renowned, magical Christmas tree stand complete with running trains and alpine villages.

A lover of horses, Bill was a member of the Mounted Assistance Unit for Jack London State Park and also a member of the Valley of the Moon Natural History Association board where he introduced and ran the annual holiday party for the docents of three parks.

Bill is survived by Nancy, his wife of 66 years, and their six children: Maureen Murray Fox, Bill (Susan), Nancy Ewert (Dave), R.J. (Pina), Shawn Waite (Craig), and John (Nancy). “Pop” is also survived by 10 grandchildren and became a great grandfather this year. A Funeral Mass in thanksgiving of Bill’s life took place on June 24 at St. Leo Catholic Church, in Sonoma. In lieu of flowers, please consider memorial contributions to the Sonoma Land Trust ( or the Disabled American Veterans (

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