Orson Ernest Murray, a former resident of Billings, passed away in Missoula on December 3rd. He was born on October 25, 1925 in Glendive, Montana to Ernest (Ernie) and Elsie Murray. Orson was the elder brother of Dorothy Murray Rahders (deceased). He married Florence Cook (deceased) in 1952 and Patricia Rooney (deceased) in 1986.
Orson grew up in Missoula, attending Whittier, Paxson, and Missoula County High School. In 1943 he joined the U.S. Maritime Service, as he was not old enough to enlist in the military, and he served on troop carriers and supply ships as a merchant seaman until the end of WWII. Orson graduated from Montana State University in Missoula in 1952 with a degree in Business Administration, and then was drafted into the U.S. Army. He was stationed at Beale Air Force Base in California, where he worked as a draftsman until his discharge in 1954.
Following in the footsteps of his parents, Orson worked as a railroader for 50 years. He began his career in 1946 as a telegraph operator for the Northern Pacific Railroad, Rocky Mountain Division. Later, Orson pursued agency work and was stationed in Stevensville, Bonner, Livingston, and Helena. He went on to work for the Burlington Northern in Billings as Stations Inspector, then Stations Manager. Orson retired briefly in 1981, then began working for Montana RailLink, first as a consultant, then as Operations Director. He retired from MRL in 1996.
Orson was a man of many interests. He was an active outdoorsman who enjoyed hunting, fishing, and hiking throughout his life. Flathead Lake, Glacier Park, and the Bob Marshall and Scapegoat Wilderness Areas were among his favorite destinations. Orson believed service to the community was an honor. He was a devoted member of Holy Spirit Episcopal Church in Missoula, a leader in various masonic groups, and a committed volunteer for several community organizations. Orson was also a lifelong learner who enjoyed studying theology, history, geology, and other subjects. While he grew personally through his many interests, he also greatly enriched the lives of his family and friends.
Orson is survived by his daughters, Audrey, Janice (Jay), and Marian; grandchildren, Jesse, Aaron, and Bradley; and great grandson, Ernest. A memorial service and luncheon celebrating Orson’s life will be held at Holy Spirit Episcopal Church in Missoula at 11:00 a.m. on Thursday, December 14th. In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to Episcopal Relief & Development, P.O. Box 7058 Merrifield, VA 22116-7058, www.episcopalrelief.org, or to Shriners’ Hospitals for Children, P.O. Box 2472, Spokane, WA 99210-2472, www.shrinershospitalsforchildren.org.