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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, December 28, 2006

Terry McMurray, 73, police reporter

 •  Obituaries

By Mike Leidemann
Advertiser Staff Writer

Terry McMurray

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Terry McMurray, who chronicled Hawai'i's fires, crimes and dark underside for more than 40 years as a Honolulu Advertiser reporter, died Dec. 25, family members said. He was 73.

McMurray was a consummate journalist equally respected by his colleagues and those he covered, friends said yesterday.

"He was totally trusted by police and fire officials he worked with because he was balanced, fair and completely accurate," said former Advertiser editor Gerry Keir. "He wrote thousands, maybe tens of thousands, of stories over the years, and I can't remember having to run a correction or clarification. He got it right the first time."

A dapper, meticulous man who loved swimming and missed only a handful of days of work due to illness in four decades, McMurray introduced dozens of cub reporters to the rigors of police reporting during his Advertiser career from 1953 to 1994.

Many remembered him most for his oversized reporter's notebook, bulging with details of traffic accidents, stove-top fires, murders and misdemeanors and for his insistence that they always finish off a late-night round of cop checks with a cold beer at a local watering hole.

"And he could work quickly. You could always count on Terry to whip out clean, clear stories that told it all and didn't hold up the presses," Keir said.

On the night former Beatle John Lennon was shot in New York by a Honolulu man, McMurray went to work quickly and produced a complete profile of the killer, including details of his gun permit. "To dig out stuff like that at night is no easy task, but Terry did it," Keir said.

Joe Ryan, a former Honolulu police detective, said McMurray was well liked throughout the department.

"He had wonderful integrity and common sense," said Ryan, who got to know McMurray during their years together on the 3 p.m.-to-midnight shift. "Everybody liked dealing with him because he was up-front and honest. He was the genuine thing."

McMurray was born in Ohio in 1933 and joined The Advertiser as a reporter while still serving in the U.S. Navy in 1953. Except for a three-year stint as the paper's Big Island correspondent in the late 1950s, he spent the rest of his career as a police reporter.

"He was the most low-key, self-effacing guy you'd ever meet," Keir said. "Even when he retired, he refused to let us throw him a retirement party in the newsroom. I begged him, but he just wouldn't do it. When he left, it was tough to replace a guy with his contacts and knowledge of the beat."

Just months after his retirement in 1994, McMurray suffered a stroke that left him largely speechless and confined to a wheelchair. He then took up oil painting, and over the next 10 years produced a prodigious amount of artwork as he remained active and surrounded by family members.

McMurray is survived by wife, Tomiye (Nishimoto) McMurray; son, David; daughters, Fern and Carla; grandchildren, Quinn and Reese; sisters, Cecelia Goetz, Joyce Abner, Donna Smith, Myrna Miracle and Cheryl Day; and brother, Wayne Garner.

Private services are pending. The family requests no flowers.

Reach Mike Leidemann at mleidemann@honoluluadvertiser.com.