William "Bill" Russell Murray

William "Bill" Russell Murray


William Russell Murray, 80, of Kirksville, Missouri passed away Wednesday, March 13, 2019, at his home.

Murray served four years in the US Navy 1957-1961. William was a Professor of Art at Truman State University in Kirksville and taught for 30 years in the Art Department. He had a great love and passion for the students at Truman, an admired teacher and advisor to many. In addition to his role at the University, he was an active sponsor of Phi Lambda Chi Fraternity for 45 years, affectionately known as “Doc”. In this role, he was also well-known as an award-winning homecoming float designer for many years.

In dedication to the city, he participated on the Kirksville City Council April 1998 to April 2004 and was Mayor Pro Tem 1999-2001. He was elected Mayor in April 2001, serving until April 2004.

Combining his love of ships and teaching, he was a guest lecturer on cruise ships after his retirement from the university. He travelled the world, visiting every continent over 83 cruises, teaching classes on the ships about local art relevant to their venues as well as leading tour groups in local art museums and other important sites at their ports of call. He never stopped learning and sharing with others.

He is lovingly remembered by his wife of 60 years, Sondra Murray; son and daughter-in-law William Jefferson and Paula Ferrante Murray (Kirksville); daughter Leslie Anne Murray Downie and grandson Mitchell Murray Downie of Prairie Village (Kansas); granddaughter Jessica Murray Claybrook, great-grandson Parker Claybrook, great-granddaughter Addison Claybrook of Macon (MO); and grandson-in-law Adam Claybrook of Bevier MO. He has one surviving sister Elizabeth (Libby) Neuharth of Florida.

It was Bill's wish to be cremated. A Celebration of Life to honor Bill will be held on Saturday April 6, 11 a.m. with family receiving friends for one hour prior to the service at Travis-Noe Funeral Home. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the William Murray Art Scholarship Fund and may be left at or mailed to Travis-Noe Funeral Home, P.O. Box 306, Kirksville, MO 63501.

  • Sign E-Memorial (2)

E-Memorial Book and Condolences

Signed by: Maria Di Stefano on March 19, 2019

Signed by: Sara_E._Orel on March 19, 2019

I am really sad to hear this. Bill was the chair of the search committee that hired me, and as a result he was the first person I met in Kirksville. He was a wonderful host and he and Sondra made me feel very welcome when I came to town. He was a lovely man. May his family take comfort in the knowledge that he was an important pillar in the lives of hundreds of people. I thought the world of him. I hope he is off taking exotic tours in the afterlife -- if I am lucky, maybe he can be my guide on a nice cruise some time in the land of the setting sun.

Login required to post.