The Rev. Jay J. McMurren
March 7, 1928 - January 31, 2018
There will be a memorial service for long-time Oregon priest, the Rev. Jay J. McMurren, 89, at 1:00 p.m. on Sat., Feb. 17. The service will be at Prince of Peace Episcopal Church, 1525 Glen Creek Rd. NW in West Salem. There will be a reception following the service at the Salem Convention Center.
McMurren suffered a heart attack and died with his wife at his side
at home on Wed., Jan. 31.
McMurren was born on Mar. 7, 1928 in Jennings Lodge, (Milwaukie) OR to Jesse and Eva McMurren. His father was a World War I veteran and a railroad engineer, serving as a conductor on the streetcar line between Oregon City and Portland. His mother was a homemaker.
He attended primary school in Jennings Lodge, then high school in West Linn, where he earned his letter in basketball.
After graduating in 1946, McMurren attended University of Oregon for a while and then enlisted in the U.S. Navy and went through boot camp at the Great Lakes Naval Station near Chicago. He later was stationed on Attu Island in Alaska, at the end of the Aleutian Chain. He served as a fireman at the Naval Air Station in Attu for two years, receiving an honorable discharge.
Following his military service, McMurren used his G.I. Bill to attend the University of Oregon in Eugene. He pledged with the Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE) fraternity, serving as the house president in his senior year.
It was at the U of O that McMurren met Barbara Diane “Deanne” Smith while he was working at the nearby Kappa Alpha Theta sorority house. McMurren graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in business administration in 1953. Two weeks later, he and Deanne were married, on June 21, 1953.
McMurren first worked for IBM Corporation in Salem. He was a successful salesman in the company’s typewriter division. After transferring to IBM in Portland, the McMurrens, now with two children, attended St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church in Beaverton.
It was there that McMurren discerned a call to serve as a priest. Sponsored by the Episcopal Diocese of Western Oregon, the family traveled cross-country by train from Portland to Alexandria, Virginia to he could attend Virginia Theological Seminary.
After three years of seminary, the family returned to Oregon, where McMurren led his first parish, St. Matthew’s in Eugene while at the same time serving as the Episcopal Chaplain at the University of Oregon Campus Ministry. Four years after that McMurren was called to serve as the Rector of Grace Memorial Episcopal Church in northeast Portland. He served there for 20 years.
In his 49-year tenure as a parish priest, McMurren also served many roles at the Episcopal Diocese of Western Oregon. He chaired the Committee for Restructuring the Diocese from 1970 to 1972 and completed multiple terms as a member of the Board of Trustees, Standing Committee, and Diocesan Council. He was a consultant for the Leadership Skills Institute and a founding member and consultant for the Diocesan Stewardship Commission. With others, he founded the Commission on Alcohol Recovery and served as a search consultant and led and mentored the early Interim Training Group.
McMurren’s boss, Bishop Robert Ladehoff, noted that he was “deeply loved” at Grace Memorial. “It was fun to visit—and he was a warm and gracious host. He ran a really good church."
“He’s one of the best people I’ve ever known,” said Ladehoff. “I feel better and enriched for having known him for so many years.”
One of McMurren’s colleagues who served on Ladehoff’s staff, the Rev. Neff Powell, said “I always looked up to Jay as a human being, a man and a priest.”
During McMurren’s tenure at Grace Memorial, his wife Deanne died in 1982. Two years later, he was married to Margaret Morse Martin. Margaret had already completed her studies at the Divinity School of the Pacific in Berkeley, CA and was subsequently ordained as a priest.
In 1993 both McMurren and his wife received assignments in Salem. Margaret became the vicar at Prince of Peace Church in West Salem and Jay served as assistant rector at St. Paul’s Church.
After retiring from St. Paul’s, Jay McMurren went on to serve the diocese as interim pastor at smaller churches in Dallas and Silverton, Oregon. For the last eight years he has assisted Margaret at Prince of Peace.
“He was my sweetheart and he was my rock,” said Margaret. “We had much in common including our work. He meant the world to me.”
McMurren is survived by his wife, The Rev. Margaret McMurren; son, Scott McMurren (and wife Christy); daughter Mary Anne McMurren (and husband Jeff Sprague); step-sons, Michael Martin of Tigard and Bill Martin (and wife Laura); and step-daughter Elizabeth Martin Lehfeldt (and husband Page Lehfeldt). He is survived by eight grandchildren and one great-granddaughter. He was preceded in death by his brother, Ted, in 2005.