In the September Fountain: ‘A complete joy’
8/29/2014 11:07:29 AM
Montana transplant gives back to community
By Sarah Robertson
Diane Murray lived in just about every corner of Montana for more than 60 years, but now, as a five-year resident of Liberty Lake, she couldn't imagine a nicer place to call home.
Born in Fairview, Mont., near the North Dakota border, Murray recalled, "My childhood was idyllic."
Murray, 72, grew up in the country where her father owned sheep and a John Deere retailer called Collin's Mercantile. Murray fondly remembers always having horses.
"On Sundays we would saddle up the horses and ride across the hills and ride to where my grandfather had homesteaded called Collin's Grove," she recalled. "There was a creek that ran through and we would catch turtles and picnic."
From Fairview, Murray attended college in Billings at what was then Eastern Montana College (it's now called Montana State University-Billings). When asked why she decided to become a teacher, Murray replied, "When I was young, girls attended business college, became a beautician, nurse or teacher."
Murray knew she didn't want to be a nurse, so she decided to become a teacher. After many years of teaching Sunday school and enjoying the experience, as well as the children, it seemed like the best option. Murray marveled, "Women have so many options now!"
College was a full experience for Murray. She was a resident advisor in the dorms, a member of a madrigal group and even a homecoming princess. One of her most treasured memories from her college years is traveling around Montana in the summer with her singing group.
Upon finishing college, Murray took a job teaching second grade in Great Falls, Mont. The greatest lesson she learned from living in Great Falls? "Always have a scarf with you, the wind in Great Falls is always blowing," she recalled as she patted her hair as though the wind were still gusting.
During her teaching career, Murray taught every grade between second and sixth. "I never woke up and didn't want to go to work," she said.
She met her now ex-husband, Ken, in Great Falls and moved with him to Bozeman so he could finish his degree. Ken worked with computers, and the family kept up a slightly nomadic lifestyle, moving to Billings, Glasgow Air Force Base (also in Montana), back to Fairview, Miles City, Great Falls, Missoula, and finally Butte where Murray retired before moving to Liberty Lake.
Along the way, she had three children. One of her fond memories of exploring Montana as a family was a van that they retrofitted with double-decker cots for camping and their many daytrips. "When we lived at the base [Glasgow Air Force Base], we would take the kids to the creek to fish and catch turtles."
Despite her years in Montana, the pull of family drew her to Liberty Lake. Her son, Scott, lives near Liberty Lake; her daughter, Michele, lives in Oregon; and her daughter Beth lives in the Spokane area as well. She has seven grandchildren.
"Liberty Lake is one of the most beautiful small towns I have been in," she said. "I am impressed with the green spaces and trees. I drove by it for years and had no idea that it was so beautiful."
Now, Murray seems right at home on her balcony full of flowers and neighbors yelling "hello" as they pass by her condo, which is not far from the library, where she is involved with the Friends of the Liberty Lake Municipal Library.
Murray plunged into life in Liberty Lake. Many in the community likely know her from her library work; she just ended her two-year term as board president.
Georgette Rogers, circulation supervisor at the library, commends Murray for her work to support the library. "[She] is a complete joy to be around. She was chair of the Friends group and got it organized and ran a great meeting," Rogers said. "She cares about her community and the library."
Volunteering at her church, St. Joseph's Catholic Church, is also very important to Murray. She is on the charity and justice committee, takes part in Blessings Under the Bridge and sings in the choir. Possibly her favorite task is taking communion to the homebound and those living at Guardian Angels. Murray also loves going on daytrips with her Seniors on the Go group through St. Joseph's.
Murray also enjoys volunteering in one of the third-grade classrooms at Liberty Lake Elementary School.
"I feel like, if you're going to do something, do something you enjoy," she said. "I like working one-on-one. I like the bond you get with one student."