Murry left legacy of professionalism, service to others
Editor's note: For Rusty's full obituary information, see page 3 of today's edition. Much appreciation is extended to Nevada Police Chief Graham Burnley for providing documents that were helpful in writing this story.
By Floyd Jernigan
Nevada Daily Mail
Rusty Murry, reporter and photographer for the Nevada Daily Mail, avid outdoorsman, and a committed community volunteer, died Wednesday, March 12, after battling cancer for 20 plus years.
Murry's primary duties at the Daily Mail, where he worked up until his illness forced him to take medical leave, included covering county government and city and county law enforcement, while also writing columns and blogs on the outdoors.
He worked at the newspaper during two different stints, the first time joining the staff in June 2005 and the second coming in January 2009.
He won a number of reporting awards during his time at the paper, including the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life Above and Beyond Award in 2008 and was a National Press Foundation Fellow for 2010, being recognized at a retirement issues conference in Washington, D.C.
Murry also won the prestigious Missouri Police Chief Association's Mary Phelan Media Award in 2011.
This award is only given if the selection committee determines that the media candidate is by the nature of the word "professional" and is dedicated to public service on and off the job.
The award's announcement stated that, "Rusty Murry consistently reports the facts of every significant event in a professional manner. His commitment to integrity and fairness is exemplary."
Murry's work covering law enforcement included his efforts to get a better understanding of those who serve. During the spring of 2011, he participated in the first Nevada Citizens' Police Academy and he wrote a weekly news article on each class for the entire program. "This series of articles raised public awareness of the Nevada Police Department from a positive perspective that impacted the entire community," noted Nevada Police Chief W. Graham Burnley in nominating Murry for the award.
"Since that time, Rusty did a ride along with the night shift Nevada Police officers, where he painted a positive picture of law enforcement professionals doing a difficult job.
"He always shows up at major events but still takes the time to report on human interest stories important to his readership."
Murry also took that "put yourself in their shoes" approach to his reporting in other areas of the community, participating in a training class for citizens who wanted to be better educated to help with disaster and emergency planning response.
Murry's dedication to public service was evident by his serving on multiple committees and local volunteer organizations in support of worthy causes.
A U.S. Army veteran, "I first became a published writer/photographer in 1985 and worked free lance in my spare time for many years," Murry wrote Chief Burnley regarding his background when Murry was nominated by the chief for the Phelan Award.
"I mostly made my living in the construction industry," he recalled. "I was factory superintendent for several years and owned my own trucking and steel erection business for two years until cancer forced me to sell.
"Since then I managed to get into college where I majored in English/creative writing and minored in literature. In the ensuing years, I have been a staff writer or stringer for several newspapers and been published in magazines, newsletters, on the Internet and in literary journals."
His career at the Daily Mail built a sizeable community following, enhanced by his background of extensive volunteer work during his life.
He spent two years as a volunteer writing tutor in the GED program in Henry County; a year on the Missouri Re-Entry Process team for Johnson and Henry County, a year on the Community Organization for Drug Elimination of Henry County, and two years as a member of the Henry County Relay for Life planning committee.
He was a trained Volunteer In Corrections at Ozarks Correctional Center.
In Vernon County, he served as a volunteer for the Vernon County Cancer Relief Fund and the Vernon County Youth Task Force. He served as the chairperson for the Community Relations Committee of the VCYTF.
He was also a member of the Executive Board of Directors of the Lighthouse Children's Theatre of El Dorado Springs and the Nevada R-5 School District Strategic Planning Committee.
A visitation gathering for Rusty Murry is Saturday, March 22, from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday at Ferry Funeral Home, where his family will receive friends and reminisce.
In lieu of flowers, the family has requested donations to Vernon County Cancer Relief in Rusty's memory.