John B. Murray, Sr., 80, of Sea Girt, NJ, a long-term leader in the New Jersey legal, academic, and athletic communities passed peacefully surrounded by family on Sunday, March 21, 2021.
John B. Murray, Sr., was born in Newark, NJ on September 16, 1940, the second child of the late Michael William and Helen Murray (Perry). John was raised in a tight-knit Irish Catholic family that valued hard work, education, and athletics. These values guided John’s drive to improve our New Jersey community for well over fifty years. John grew up in the Vailsburg section of Newark and attended the Ivy Street Grammar School and, following his graduation, enrolled at Seton Hall Preparatory School. John was a standout both academically and athletically at The Prep. John was elected in 1958 as Student Council President and elected Captain of the football team and earned All-State honors for his play on the gridiron. John also earned All-Essex County honors with the varsity basketball team and was a member of the 1958 Parochial North Jersey State Championship team. At graduation, John was recognized as the “Most Representative Setonian”. Upon graduation, John attended the University of Notre Dame and was a proud member of graduating class of 1963, earning a degree in Economics. He continued his athletic career as a member of the “Fighting Irish” football team and earned his varsity letter along with the tradition of having his name permanently inscribed on the wall of the Joyce Center. John went on to earn a law degree at Georgetown University Law Center in 1966, while also coaching the Hoya’s football team in its inaugural year and earning the “Coach of the Year” award for his impact on the new program. John continued his education at New York University, earning a Master’s Degree in Law (Taxation) in 1967 prior to entering the legal community in New Jersey.
John spent the more than 40 years of his legal career as a partner and leader in the law firm of Connell Foley. During a large period of his tenure at the firm, Connell Foley served as General Counsel and as Special Counsel to the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority (CRDA). John was responsible for all CRDA matters and coordinated the assignment of legal matters to other law firms. He worked closely with state, county, and municipal levels of government within Atlantic County and throughout the State of New Jersey in connection with the review and approval of projects and the structure of financing for such projects, frequently including a public/private effort. The efforts and coordination required to bring parties together for a common cause in New Jersey was a testament to John’s strength of character and reputation in both the public and private sectors.
John was also passionate about his golf and a proud member of Spring Lake Golf Club and Bear’s Paw in Naples, FL. At the Spring Lake Golf Club, he served two separate terms as President and provided oversight to several of the improvements to the clubhouse and grounds. John’s impact on the golfing community covered the entire state through his affiliations with the New Jersey Seniors Association and the New Jersey State Golf Association (NJSGA), where he served terms as President for both organizations. During his tenure on the board of NJSGA, John served on numerous committees, including the legal advisory and long-range planning committees. John served on the Caddie Scholarship Committee and was a trustee of the NJSGA Youth Foundation. John’s efforts helped provide resources, opportunities, and an introduction to the game and its inherent values to many children in our community.
John’s commitment to Seton Hall Preparatory School did not end upon graduation and he continued to stay involved in the success of the school throughout his life. John has been a member of the board at Seton Hall Prep since 1987 and held the position of Chairman of the Board of Trustees from 1996 until 2019 and then appointed Chairman Emeritus. As a member of the Board, John led the effort to relocate Seton Hall Preparatory School from its long-time home on the Seton Hall University Campus in South Orange to its current location in West Orange. In 1995, he spearheaded the plans and approval necessary to purchase and develop the 44-acre, state-of-the-art Kelly Athletic Complex for the benefit of The Prep and the surrounding community.
The school dedicated the John B. Murray ’59 Fieldhouse in his honor at the Kelly Athletic Complex on October 14th, 2017. In 2019, the first John B. Murray Scholarship Award was named and presented to the graduate who has humbly served The Prep community and embodies the four pillars of Seton Hall Prep: Family, Faith, Compassion, and Courage. John was a huge presence at many of The Prep events including graduations, golf outings, Hall of Fame ceremonies, Golden Knight luncheons and class reunions. In 1987, John was inducted into the Seton Hall Prep Hall of Fame and, in 1994, was honored as the Thomas Reynolds Award recipient, presented to a father who exemplifies the Christian tradition in every facet of his relationships with their fellowman; has consistently shown themselves to be devoted to the welfare of the student body at The Prep; and has consistently remained an active member of The Prep. John’s humble approach and tireless commitment to The Prep was his way of giving back to an institution that had such a profound impact on his development and future success.
John is survived by his wife of 45 years, Ann Murray, his four children, John B. Murray Jr. of Allendale, NJ, Patrick B. Murray of Scottsdale, AZ, Brendan R. Murray of Westfield, NJ, and Paige R. Murray of Franklin Lakes, NJ and three step-children, Eric T. Leonhardt of Brick Township, Todd C. Leonhardt of Sea Girt, NJ, and James A. Leonhardt of Brick Township along with their spouses and 22 beloved grandchildren: Riley, Katie, Jack, Garrett, Hannah, Grace, Charlotte, Nicole, Maggie, William, Ryan, Jessica, Erica, Tess, Paige, Ian, Thomas, Seamus, Haley, Cara, Brooke, Payton, along with two great-grandchildren, Kennedy and Nolan and John’s sister, Mary Ann Clayton of Spring Lake, NJ and brother, Michael W. Murray Jr. of Colts Neck, NJ.
There will be a private mass for the family due to the current conditions with a Memorial Mass expected to be scheduled this summer/fall. In lieu of flowers, gifts in John’s memory may be made to The John B. Murray Memorial Fund at Seton Hall Preparatory School, 120 Northfield Ave, West Orange, NJ 07052.
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