Memorial bench placed at Heritage Park and Nature Trail
MUNCY – It was a perfect autumn day for a ceremony that was dedicated to the beauty and natural surroundings, and one who took it upon himself to make it a life’s obligation to promote good forestry practices.
That person was Jack Murray now known to many in the area as a “Forest Steward and Explorer of the Natural World.” Those remarks were proudly made by a close friend and comrade on Sunday afternoon, October 11 at the Muncy Historical Society’s Heritage Park and Nature Trail location.
As he pointed to the inscription permanently marked on a bench, Henry Williams from Millville spoke fondly of Murray’s leadership and commitment to the forest land, its resources, and wildlife habitats. “This bench doesn’t tell the whole story,” said Mike Wennin from the Lumber Heritage Region of Pennsylvania as several members stood by from the Central Susquehanna Woodland Owners Association to honor his legacy, and a founding member of the organization 15 years ago.
The bench made in Jack’s memory, was recognized by those who came to see how the chosen location was ideal, as it overlooked a pond of constant seasonal beauty. Williams said he met Murray at a forestry and woodlands owner conference where Jack spoke. “I found him very inspirational, then we became good friends over the years.”
Before his passing in 2009, Murray was very active throughout Pennsylvania in promoting sustainable land practices at all levels of government. He and his wife purchased 130 acres near Pennsdale in 1995 and “managed it with best forestry practices.”
Williams announced how Murray chaired a state wide committee to guide private landowners to become better stewards of their own woodlots. He also started new woodland associations across the state, covering 10 counties.
Suzanne Murray spoke of her husband’s endless curiosity about the natural world as she welcomed friends and family to the gathering. “Jack was truly a unique man, so deciding what to say on the bench was challenging. He was a man of many worlds – comfortable in a business suit, in board rooms, but happier still hiking and working in our woods, and playing in the dirt in our garden. He was endlessly curious about so many things, but especially about the natural world. So ‘Explorer of the Natural World’ seems eminently fitting. I know he would appreciate this spot and this tribute”
At the end of the ceremony Williams remarked, “He was a great friend for those of us who had the privilege to know him, and a tremendous role model”
His tireless advocacy to the cause will be remembered always.