Widow keeps Murray alive | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Widow keeps Murray alive

Steve Yingling, Tribune sports editor

Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Jim Murray entertained Los Angeles Times readers for nearly four decades while he was alive. His widow is making certain that he readers have the opportunity to enjoy his literary creativity years after his death.

Linda McCoy-Murray will present a copy of “Quotable Jim Murray” to the El Dorado County Library today in South Lake Tahoe. The book is a collection of Murray’s quotes from the more than 10,000 columns wrote while employed by the Times.

“His legacy just lives on,” McCoy-Murray said. “I would never want to see that legacy die. He touched so many lives in so many ways.”

The quotes are arranged by category and sport. Besides his literary pearls, the book includes the many tributes paid to him before and after he died five years ago.

Her late husband actually simplified the project because of his propensity to save things.

“He saved everything. I just have volumes of printed material to draw from,” McCoy-Murray said.

Hence, McCoy-Murray doesn’t plan to stop with one publication. She’s planning a series of books through Towlehouse Publications.

Some of the proceeds from book sales will go toward the Jim Murray Memorial Foundation. Each year, the foundation provides seven $5,000 journalism scholarships to a pool of 25 colleges where recipients are selected through an essay contest.

“These writers emulate him and tell me that they are in sportswriting because of him. It makes me smile when I hear these things,” she said.

Like many of his readers, McCoy-Murray could never get enough of her husband’s humor.

While accepting the Pulitzer Prize for commentary in 1990, Murray said, “This is going to make it a little easier on the guy who writes my obit.”

He was very humble and, of course, witty when accepting the award.

“I always thought you had to bring down government to win a Pulitzer. All I ever did was quote Tommy Lasorda accurately,” McCoy-Murray recalled him saying.

The McCoy-Murray relationship took nearly 16 years to evolve. They met in 1969 when the Los Angeles Times columnist needed a driver to chauffeur him around Indianapolis.

“I was 25 and he was 49 and I really didn’t care for him. When he left town I was very happy to see him go,” she said.

They met at two functions later that year, but 16 years elapsed before they saw each other again.

“That’s when a mutual friend told me about the sadness in his life. He lost his wife and son, lost an eye and had open-heart surgery. I sent him a note of condolence,” she said.

McCoy-Murray’s kindness led them to reacquaint for the 1986 U.S. Open in Shinnecock Hills in Southampton, N.Y.

They spent the next decade “together'” with Jim living in Los Angeles and Linda in New York. They were married a year and half when Jim died on Aug. 16, 1998.

“I’m glad we (got married). I never would have been able to perpetuate his legacy had we not married,” McCoy-Murray said.

On the day Murray died, the couple spent the day at Del Mar race track. Murray, who was still writing three columns a week, focused on Freehouse, a horse on the downside of his career. The column was entitled “Anyway, it’s nice to know that getting old has its flipside.”

“He wrote it and it was like a farewell,” she said.

McCoy-Murray plans to donate a copy of “Quotable Jim Murray” to the library today at approximately 1 p.m.

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