Colonel MaeJane Murray
FAIR OAKS, Calif. – Colonel MaeJane Murray, retired Air Force Nurse Practitioner, died June 2, 2013, at Mercy San Juan Medical Center. Born on the Fourth of July, 1933, she grew up in Lewistown. The daughter of Charles “Bing” and Nellie (nee Beachler) Matter, her parents, sister June Harbst, and husband, Jack R. Murray, predeceased her. Col. Murray died June 2, 2013, at Mercy San Juan Medical Center. She divided her time in recent years between homes in Fair Oaks, Calif. and Reno.
Col. Murray began her AF career in 1959. She studied nursing, became an RN and advanced to instructor at Lewistown Hospital School of Nursing. Then, according to a video interview by the Veterans History Project, “Two friends, also RNs, Charlotte Hoffman and Lentha Varner, and I decided to join the service.” They looked at all the service uniforms, decided they liked Air Force uniforms best, and headed to Philadelphia to take the oath. After basic, they ended up at Turner AFB, Albany, Ga.
A nurse specializing in OB/GYN, she married Jack Murray in 1961 at Turner, where he was a radar navigator with SAC. In 1967, both then-Captains Murray were assigned to Mather AFB in his hometown of Sacramento. They spent 1969-70 in southeast Asia, then went to Clovis, N.M. In 1972, she was off to USAFB Upper Heyford, England, where she jumped at the opportunity to study as a nurse practitioner, returning to the U.S. to train and becoming an NP in 1974.
Later posts were Goldsboro, N.C., and Wiesbaden, Germany, where she cared for the female Iran hostages when they were released. Returning to Mather as a full Colonel and head nurse, she retired in October 1989. Medals include Meritorious Service and a Commendation medal, both with one oak-leaf cluster, an AF Outstanding Unit Award with five oak-leaf clusters and many more, but she was proudest of her Vietnam Service Medal with four campaign service stars. She also qualified as flight nurse. After “retirement,” she worked 10 years as an NP in an AF colleague’s OB/GYN practice.
With her on June 2 were: sister-in-law, Nancy “Vay” David, of East Hampton, N.Y.; close friend, Mary Vasquez, of Virginia, who met her in Wiesbaden and cared for her through recent illnesses; and friends and neighbors Mel and Sherry Welch. Three nieces survive: Diana Harbst, of Harriman, Tenn., mother of Christina Gorgol and Bobby Bradshaw Jr; Patricia Peebles, of Warren, Mich., mother of Jennifer Peebles; and Carol Harbst, of Boise, Idaho, mother of Amber and Shane Greer.
Friends and family remember her for many things taking her dogs on countless Volksmarches in Germany, staunchly supporting animal rights, staying an avid tennis player into her 70s, “the most wonderful smile,” her enthusiasm, an odd IUD collection, determination and constant energy. A niece found her an “excellent role model” and many felt her the sister they “had always wanted.”
A memorial service with full military honors is planned at 10:30 a.m. July 11, 2013, at Sacramento Valley National Cemetery in Dixon, Calif. A reception will follow at Col. Murray’s VFW Post.
In lieu of flowers, the family has requested contributions to Humane Society of the U.S. in memory of MaeJane Murray.