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W. Michael Murray

Posted February 06, 2014 in Des Moines West, Obituaries

December 28, 1947 – September 6, 2013

Mike Murray

Mike Murray

William Michael “Mike” Murray, 66, passed away on September 6, 2013 at Senior Haven in Portland, Oregon. A memorial service celebrating Mike’s life will be held at 1 p.m. on Saturday, March 8, 2014 at Iles Dunn’s Chapel in Des Moines, with a reception to follow.

Mike was born on December 28, 1947 in Ottumwa, Iowa to William B. and Thelma (Hart) Murray. He graduated from Ottumwa High School and went on to be the first person in his family to go to college. He attended The University of Iowa, where he earned his B.A. and ultimately his Juris Doctorate. He married Ann Wawzonek on October 11, 1973 and they remained loyal partners until her death in 2008. Ann and Mike lived in Des Moines after college where they raised their two children together. Mike opened his law practice in 1978 and specialized in Worker’s Compensation and Personal Injury Law.

Mike was a witty, intelligent and compassionate person. Most importantly he was a loving father, husband and son. He enjoyed athletics and was proud to have run the Drake Marathon. Mike also loved swimming. He worked as a life guard during summers in Ottumwa and was proud to have saved a boy’s life. He was a lifelong fan of the Braves (both Milwaukee and Atlanta) and a dedicated Hawkeye. Human Rights were important to him. Prior to starting a family, Mike served as President of the Iowa Chapter of the ACLU and was staff counsel for the Iowa Civil Rights Commission. He also ran for State Representative in 1980. Most recently, he was delighted when he learned DOMA was overturned. Mike retired and moved to Portland in 2008 to be closer to his daughter while he battled Parkinson’s disease. He continued to be active and enjoyed taking art classes, traveling and singing in a choir.

He is survived by his daughter, Kit Murray and her partner Pam McElwee, and their children, Eleanor and Lewis, of Portland, OR; son, Dan Murray of Des Moines; brother, Pat Murray and his wife, Julie, and Pat’s son, Matt of Ottumwa, IA; sister, Tina Housley of Phoenix, AZ; uncle, Rodney Hart of Des Moines; and two sisters-in-law, Lucy Thompson and her husband, Steve, and their children, Stacia and David of Bethlehem, PA and Mary Lou Kuehster and her husband, Ted, and their son, Adam of Centennial, CO. Mike was preceded in death by his parents and his wife.

Memorial contributions may be made to the ACLU of Iowa or The Michael J. Fox Foundation.


Information provided by:
Iles Funeral Homes
Dunn’s Chapel
2121 Grand Ave
Des Moines, IA 50312

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