Neil Bardal Funeral CentrePhone: 204-949-2200 3030 Notre Dame Avenue WinnipegMBR3H 1B9
MacKenzie Funeral Chapel | Phone: 204-467-2525 433 Main Street | Stonewall, MB R0C 2Z0
Neil Bardal Funeral Centre | Phone: 204-642-7124 | 82 5th Street, PO. Box 1889 | Gimli, MB R0C 1B0 |


Melville McMurray

Melville McMurray

Friday, October 2nd, 2020

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Obituary for Melville McMurray

A few months after celebrating his 95th birthday, Mel passed away peacefully in his sleep, on October 2, 2020.

Mel was predeceased by his wife of 43 years, Audrey (nee Ivey) in 1996; common-law partner Sherry Bouchard (nee Kovacs) in 2016; Audrey’s sister Francis Ivey in 2008; and daughter Shawna in 2016. The youngest in a family of seven children, Mel was predeceased by sister Ivy (Horne), brothers Sydney, Jack, Doug, George and Raymond.

Mel is survived by sons Laird (Yvonne) and Keith (Louise); grandchildren Megan (Jamie), Katelin, Dana (Alec), Riley; great-grandson Oliver; Sherry’s daughter Carmelle (Alain) and many nieces, nephews and their families.

Mel grew up in Elmwood, where he and his siblings slept three to a bed, starting work at early ages in order to help the family stay afloat. Mel and brother Doug would rise early in the morning to deliver milk by horse and buggy. The horse knew the route so well, Doug and Mel could catch some shuteye on the way home! What the family lacked in monetary wealth was more than made up for by the rich relationships fostered amongst the siblings that would last a lifetime. As a result, the passing of time has been marked by annual McMurray Clan get-togethers: the Green Sock party on St. Patrick’s Day, corn roasts at Syd and Maisie’s, Thanksgiving at the Horne cabin at Matlock and the pre-Christmas potluck dinner each December.

Mel began work at the CN as a Carman at the age of 16, but followed in the footsteps of his older brothers and joined the Navy, leaving for Halifax a few months later. When working in the Halifax harbor on a Navy barge, a German sub appeared with Mel having only a hammer for a weapon. Fortunately, the sub had already been captured and was not a threat!

Post-war, Mel returned to Winnipeg and resumed his career with the CN, quickly moving to the ranks of Foreman. Mel maintained his Navy ties, frequenting social events at Chippawa, where, one cold, snowy winter’s night, he met Audrey, who had been a W.R.E.N. during the war. The evening ended in a snowball fight where Audrey gave as good as she got, and Mel was smitten. The pair wed in 1952, settling in Fort Garry where they raised their children and delighted in entertaining friends and family, including longtime friends who were like family, Helen and Sandy Sandberg. The two families spent many summers together at the Woods’ cottage at Pelican Lake, Helen’s family cottage, where the events of now legendary stories took place. Over the years, the Sandbergs were frequent travelling partners of Mel and Audrey’s, including a trip to Hawaii where Mel had his false teeth knocked out by a wave on the first day of the trip! Travel for Mel and Audrey also included frequent trips west to Waskada and Melita to visit Audrey’s relatives, the McKinneys, Furtneys, Dobbyns and Southams, where the coffee was always on, the food was farm-fresh and the welcome always genuine and warm.

Pragmatic, warm and easy-going, Mel was the kind of dad who, although he might not have understood your dream, would nevertheless support you in its pursuit. Mel affectionately created many nicknames for his children: you knew you were really in trouble if he called you by your actual name!

It was as a grandfather that Mel really shone. While Audrey excelled at entertaining the grandkids with crafts and games, Mel was at his best snuggling the babes-in-arms, being the model for the pre-school hairstylists-in-training and giving hugs and back rubs to angst-ridden teenagers. Mel spoke proudly of his family, both immediate and extended, almost with a sense of awe that he had been so blessed to call these people kin.

Did you know that Mel loved opera, was part of a team that curled a perfect eight-ender and was given the nickname 3M at work? Probably not, as Mel rarely spoke of himself. A humble person and gifted storyteller with a razor-sharp wit, Mel took a sincere interest in everyone, giving his undivided attention to whomever he was with. He knew how to “live in the moment” long before the phrase was ever coined. Not surprisingly, Mel made and kept friends easily, many of them lifelong.

One particular friend from childhood reappeared later in life, years after Audrey had passed away. Mel had the good fortune to reconnect with Sherry, and the two were inseparable from that moment on. Kind, patient and optimistic, Sherry brought joy back into Mel’s life and the two spent the years travelling to visit friends and family as well as being tourists in their own town. Just as had happened when Audrey passed away, Mel lost some of his sparkle when he lost Sherry.

Mel was able to live independently until earlier this year, moving into Deer Lodge Centre in April, where he received exceptional care from the wonderful staff. Covid restrictions meant Mel was unable to have many visitors except outdoors in a tent. Unfortunately, Mel had difficulty seeing and hearing visitors because they were more than six feet away. As he so often did throughout life, Mel took the opportunity to find the good in what could have been an upsetting experience, remarking on how lovely it was to feel the warm sun and gentle summer breeze while outside.

A service to celebrate Mel will take place at a later date. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to a charity of your choice.

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