Wednesday, 03 July 2013 11:02
Most people grow up in a neighborhood; for Norman A. Murray, the neighborhood grew up around him. We lost a giant in the Levittown community recently, as Norman Murray took his place in the heavens.
In many ways, Levittown was built for Norman Murray. Part of the “greatest generation,” he served in the WWII and continued his service in J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI. He was exactly the kind of person that William Levitt wanted to have move to his new development. Norman moved from his native Quincy, MA to Levittown after earning his degree from Boston College under the G.I. Bill. At the time, Levittown was younger than he was. He never left.
Over the past 40 years, if you attended either a college or high school lacrosse game played at Hofstra University’s James Shuart Stadium, or at Nassau’s Mitchel Field, chances are you have heard Norman Murray’s sublime baritone. He was pitch perfect for all of them. In a nod to his service, perhaps only matched by that of the iconic Bob Sheppard at Yankee Stadium, directly above the seat for the public address announcer in the Hofstra University press box is a street sign that says, “Norman Murray Corner.” If Sheppard was the “voice of summer” for the Bronx Bombers, Murray was the “voice of spring” for the wood sticks.
My parents moved to Levittown from Queens, so I knew baseball and football, but I knew absolutely nothing about lacrosse. When I entered high school, Norman taught me the nuts and bolts about the sport. Indeed, every spring, Norman would tell me about the must-see games that season. He took me to a few of them, and I sat quietly up in his perch on the press level at the stadium and watched him call the game. Norman prepared for those games like he did for everything: thoroughly. As a senior in 2006, about a week before my Chaminade Flyers were going for what would end up being the second of their four-consecutive Catholic league championships, Norman approached me and asked if I would be his “spotter” in the booth for the game against St. Anthony’s. I was serviceable, if only for what Norman had taught me. He was flawless, of course.
Before I studied policy issues in Washington, and long before I even thought about law school, I sat across the table as Norman quizzed me on politics and peppered me with questions about issues from that day’s New York Times and Wall Street Journal. From Robespierre to Reagan, I liked to say; no topic was off limits.
I learned so much by just listening to Norman. As a kid, I would go by and just want to hear his stories. He taught me how to frame an argument, the importance of being an engaged member of the community, how one person can absolutely make a difference, and how to be a good Catholic. I am so grateful to have known him.
While it was William Levitt who looked out at vast swaths of potato fields and saw roads and houses, it was my friend Norman Murray, and those like him, who built the community up and took those houses made them homes, and took those roads and made them memories. Thanks for the memories, Norm, and go BC Eagles!