John Donald “Don” Murray

Date of Birth

July 30, 1929

Date of Death

December 12, 2018

John Donald “Don” Murray passed away quietly on December 12, 2018 in Santa Barbara after a brief illness.

Don was born in Madison, Wisconsin on July 30, 1929, the only child of John J. and Marie Murray. He was a well-loved as a child and excelled at everything he pursued. Raised Irish Catholic, Don attended parochial school from age four on, skipping grades 8 and 12. After graduation from Edgewood High School of the Sacred Heart in Madison he attended University of Wisconsin where he participated in ROTC and majored in Philosophy and Psychology.

In 1949 after graduating from the University of Wisconsin with a BA in Philosophy, Don utilized the Holloway Plan to attend graduate school at UC Berkeley. He was immediately impressed by this “new world”. While at Berkeley Don participated in, and enjoyed NROTC, particularly the summer cruise to Hawaii that was part of the program. That adventure sparked a lifelong love of travel and other cultures.

After graduating from UC Berkeley with a Master’s Degree in Psychology, Don, entered the US Marine Corps Basic Officer’s Training in Quantico, Virginia. 2nd Lt. Murray graduated first in his class of 541 and served five years of active duty (August 1952-September 1957). During that time he served gallantly in the 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment Infantry, which included a year of active duty in Korea.

Following his Honorable Discharge from the Marine Corps, 2nd Lt. Murray married Ruby “Cindy” Meade of Washington DC. At that time his opportunities seemed limitless. He considered a career in law and was the number one candidate for Harvard Law School, but ultimately decided his passions lay in pursuing diverse, new things, which led to a career in business. He began at IBM where he relished wearing a blue shirt to work each day. In the evenings he attended a night school MBA program through New York University, earning a Master of Business Administration with Distinction from New York University.

In 1962 Don and Ruby’s only child, Susan was born. With the birth of his daughter, and her diagnosis of a rare genetic disorder, RDEB, Don’s career was put on the fast track. He worked as the assistant to the President and Chairman of the Board of Pfizer’s U.S. Division with the assignment of acquiring Coty, a US cosmetics company. The family relocated to Santa Barbara and Don began his assignment for Estee Lauder and Norton Simon/ Max Factor serving as the President of Max Factor KK in Japan. Further into his career, Don worked in Brussels, Belgium where he served as Director of Drugs and Cosmetics for ITT Europe Inc.

Always an impeccable and stylish a dresser, and having achieved a highly successful international business career, Don weighed the personal sacrifices he had made against the benefits of his work assignments abroad. He decided his great love and responsibility to his family was tantamount to work so he left his international career and returned to Ruby and Susi in Santa Barbara.

Now permanently in Santa Barbara, Don devoted much of his time to family and the management of his financial investments. He was an avid reader, a skilled outdoorsman and a very deep thinker. The world’s problems concerned him greatly. Don worked hard and gave generously to help eliminate problems associated with poverty, world hunger and conflict/war. He was always humble, quiet and stoic. Don led by example.

In 1996 Don and Ruby divorced, but Don maintained a close relationship with Ruby as together they raised and nurtured their beloved daughter, Susi.

Don was preceded in death by his parents and the great love of his life, his daughter Susan Meade Murray, who died in 2001. His former wife, Ruby Murray died several weeks after Don’s passing despite their estrangement for over a decade. There is no doubt that Don, Susi and Ruby have reunited and are once again together.

In keeping with Don’s wishes, he was cremated and will be interred at the Santa Barbara Cemetery next to Susi. Ruby was also cremated and will be interred in the same family plot. A memorial, including a Military Honors will be at a future date. For information please email

A Santa Barbara Beautiful tree was selected for Don and a plaque will be placed in his memory. The Evergreen Pear, located on the NW corner of Garden Street at Victoria (near the Santa Barbara Architectural Foundation and SB Junior League), flowers each year and will be a vivid remembrance of a remarkable man who achieved much, cared deeply and gave generously to others.


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