Created on Tuesday, 22 January 2013 Written by THE BELLEFONTAINE EXAMINER STAFF
“Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth.”
Ray Eugene Murphy took the pilot’s seat for his final solo flight on the morning of Dec. 21, 2012.
A man of action and few words, he is survived by his mother, Ruth E. Murphy; brothers, Todd Murphy and Richard Murphy; daughter, ElizaBeth (Douglas) Gilligan; son, Dana Murphy and his life partner Brian; his grandchildren, Brianna Gilligan-Luhrman and Patrick Gilligan; great-granddaughters, Alexis and Olivia Luhrman; and many dear friends.
He was preceded in death by his wife of 46 years, Pamela.
A son of a military family, Ray was born in July 1942 in Bellefontaine and traveled the world, settling in Hayward, Calif.,
He joined the U.S. Army as a sharpshooter when he was 18. He volunteered for two tours in Vietnam. As a lieutenant and company commander, he also was a helicopter pilot. On one noted flight, he landed under heavy fire on a hilltop to rescue fellow soldiers. He was awarded two Bronze Stars and a Purple Heart, along other commendations.
His love of flying led him to share that passion with students as he taught both fixed wing and rotor students from the late 1970s until this year. His teaching style was supportive but firm; always praising hard work and dedication and he was well loved by his students.
After retiring from the Army as a major, he continued to serve his country and his passion in the Federal Aviation Administration at the Oakland FSDO and retired a principal operations inspector.
No one who knew him was surprised when in last year’s Reno Air Race tragedy, he piloted the Huey helicopter that ferried wounded to local hospitals and was subsequently awarded the prestigious 2012 Eurocopter Golden Hour award from the Helicopter Association International.
His compassion and generosity were shared with all.
We love and miss you.