Thursday, October 20, 2005

''Lacey V. Murrow (1904-1966)''

(You may find this off-topic). "To many people Lacey Murrow seemed to stand in his older brother's shadow. He was the younger brother of Edward R. Murrow, the noted pioneer journalist, radio and television news commentator, and one-time head of the U. S. Information Agency. But, each man made his own unique contributions to society and received many accolades during his lifetime.

Born in Greensboro, North Carolina in 1904, Murrow grew up with his brothers Dewey and Ed in Bellingham, Washington. The Murrow brothers attended Washington State College. Lacey graduated with a B. S. in Civil Engineering in 1923.

Murrow had worked for the State Highway Department intermittently beginning in 1919, then he moved steadily into positions of higher responsibility. In 1933 Murrow began an eight-year term as Director of the State Highway Department. It proved a turning point in his career, and in the history of bridges in Washington.

In 1937 Murrow served also as Chief Engineer for the State Toll Bridge Authority. He became a forceful advocate for a floating bridge across Lake Washington, which was completed in 1940. The same year, Murrow oversaw the department's completion of the first, and ill-fated Tacoma Narrows Bridge.

The United States entry into World War II in 1941 turned Murrow's professional life in a new direction. Before the war his favorite sport had been flying. In the war, it became his profession. From 1941-46 he served as a command pilot, winning military honors including a presidential citation with four cluster decorations, the Legion of Merit, the Order of the British Empire, and the Croix de Guerre. In 1951 Murrow became a Brigadier General in the Air Force. He served in Korea, Japan, and the United States before retirement.

From 1954 until his death, Murrow lived in Washington, D. C. and worked for Transportation Consultants, Inc., serving most of those years as the firm's President.

A life-long smoker, Lacy Murrow, like his brother Edward, began suffering from lung cancer in the early 1960s. He underwent an operation shortly before his brother's death from the disease in 1965. Little more than a year later, in December 1966 at the age of 62, Lacey was found shot to death in his room at the Lord Baltimore Hotel, a 12-gauge shotgun propped against the bed.

Soon after Murrow's suicide, the Washington State Legislature passed a resolution requesting that the State Highway Commission re-name the first Lake Washington Floating Bridge in his honor. The Commission agreed, and in March 1967 paid tribute to Murrow, declaring, "this notable engineering achievement received world-wide recognition for its pioneering of a new concept in over-water structures."-from the post on the Washington State Department of Transportation's site.
I recently saw George Clooney's "Good Night and Good Luck!" about Edward R. Murrow's encounters with Senator Joe McCarthy in the nineteen fifties and just learned of this local connection to the Murrow family. Seeing the film about Murrow made me want to see "Network" again, for a view of network news set in 1976.

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