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Murray imparted his ‘wealth of knowledge’ at Wingate for over three decades

by Chuck Gordon

Dr. Ken Murray was emblematic of the Wingate faculty during the transition from junior college to four-year institution in the 1970s. Brought in to chair the Music Department, the choral instructor and director quickly became coach of the men’s tennis team and advisor for the Windy Gate, the College’s traveling musical group.

“He would have a full day of teaching and doing who knows what, and then go over and coach tennis,” says Dr. Martha Asti, emerita professor of music and retired vice president of academic affairs, who worked in the Music Department with Murray for 19 years.

Murray, who taught at Wingate from 1975 until 2007, died on Saturday after a lengthy illness. He was 75.

Murray posing with tennis team in 1980s

Ever the professional, Murray helped foster a collegial atmosphere in the Music Department that persists to this day. He took a deliberate and thoughtful approach to teaching.

“He was quiet but had a wealth of knowledge,” says Brandon Crumpton ’03. “He was always listening, and then when he spoke it was impactful.”

Crumpton, founder and owner of Key Signature Entertainment, a live-music company in Charlotte, enrolled at Wingate in the late 1990s because the University offered a music business degree. Murray founded the program and worked closely with Crumpton. He helped Crumpton get an internship with a live-music provider in Charlotte and then served as a mentor when his former student was contemplating setting up his own business.

“He provided me with so many magazines and books,” Crumpton says. “He was like, ‘Here, take these, read these, so you have all the information you need to make sure you’re headed in the right direction.’”

In the early days, Murray wore two hats, teaching voice and directing the choral ensembles while also leading Wingate’s music-education program, where he was involved with placing students in student-teaching positions.

After his retirement, Murray spent many hours on the golf course, but he continued to promote his first love, music. He served for a time as interim director of music at First Baptist Church in Monroe.

“Even after he retired he was doing whatever he could to advance music,” Asti says.

May 4, 2022