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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Spokane

Wandering the ‘eternal wrecking yard’

UPDATED: Sun., Jan. 31, 2021

Richard Walter Murray  (Courtesy of the family)
Richard Walter Murray (Courtesy of the family)
By Shawn Vestal The Spokesman-Review

Richard Walter Murray loved working on cars – especially restoring old Fords.

Starting in high school and throughout his life, he belonged to car clubs – the Gents, the Inland Northwest Fords Unlimited, River City Vans. On his first trip to meet his future wife Holly’s parents, he wound up taking apart the engine of his Econoline van on their lawn to fix it. It’s no wonder that Holly, in his obituary, wrote that Rick now “wanders that eternal wrecking yard in the sky.”

He died Dec. 21 at age 71. Holly said they both contracted the illness shortly after Thanksgiving; she believes she brought it home from the private physicians office where she worked – and where, she said, COVID-19 caution was not taken seriously. She recovered, but Rick developed pneumonia and his lungs began to fail.

“He was very dedicated to wearing the mask,” Holly said. “He never went anywhere without wearing one.”

He was born in Caldwell, Idaho, the only boy out of six children, and moved with his family to Spokane in the 1960s. He was a hard worker from a young age; his first job as a young teen was mucking out stables south of town, and his second was bucking hay bales, Holly said.

He graduated from Ferris High and served as a tank mechanic in Vietnam. He met Holly when he returned to Spokane, and he proposed with a large, heart-shaped cookie frosted with these words: “I love you.” They married in 1973.

“I still have the cookie, by the way,” Holly said. “It was too sweet to eat.”

Rick and Holly raised two daughters in Spokane, and he was a proud union member who retired from Travis Pattern and Foundry in 2005. He loved traveling to big cities, and visiting his daughters in Seattle and Great Falls; one of his favorite places was the M&M Bar and Café in Butte.

Toward the end, as his lungs worsened, Holly and their daughters were able to sit with Rick, in person, for three hours before he was taken off the ventilator.

“His final wish,” Holly wrote in his obituary, “is for people to wear their mask, get vaccinated, and defeat COVID-19.”

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