Published August 20, 2015
DECATUR—Jeffrey (Jef) Patrick Murray died suddenly Aug. 3. He was 55.
He was born on March 17, 1960, in Melbourne, Florida, and graduated from Georgia Tech with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering. He was an engineer for many years before pursuing his life’s real calling, which was artwork, especially illustrating the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, to whom Jef credited his conversion to Catholicism.
He became an internationally known artist with works appearing in Amon Hen and Mallorn, both publications of the Tolkien Society, Silver Leaves, and the St. Austin Review, a journal of Catholic culture. He also illustrated the columns of his wife, Lorraine V. Murray, for The Georgia Bulletin and wrote two books, “Seer: A Wizard’s Journal” and “The Framerunners.”
Jef had shared his art and original stories with readers of the Integrated Catholic Life e-magazine since February 2011 in his blog, “Ponderings in Elfland.”
Deacon Michael Bickerstaff of St. Peter Chanel Church, Roswell, editor-in-chief of the Integrated Catholic Life, wrote Aug. 5 that Jef’s “insights into the spiritual and moral life, told through his work, are profoundly deep and readily accessible.”
“Randy Hain (senior editor) and I are deeply grateful for his many contributions to the mission of ICL and are blessed to have known Jef as a friend,” Deacon Bickerstaff said.
He expressed deep sadness and noted that Jef’s last article was published Aug. 4 as scheduled.
Chris Harvey, a long-time friend of the Murrays, wrote of their treasured friendship, “My family and the Murrays developed the custom of attending Mass and then sharing an hour afterwards enjoying coffee and doughnuts in the parish hall. We spent hours talking and laughing with friends of church, politics, families, movies, and all things that make life glorious.”
His friend’s death, said Harvey, “was wholly unanticipated and rattled deeply the lives of his friends and parish family at St. Thomas More (Church) in Decatur and beyond.”
He said, “Jef’s life and art pointed to a world that was richer and more beautiful than the one which merely presented itself to our eyes and ears. Jef was unsatisfied with this world because he knew, he knew deep in his bones, that there was another world towards which we are all headed.” At the funeral, upon hearing the opening hymn, “I Heard the Voice of Jesus,” Harvey said, “I could see and hear Jesus calling to my friend, and I saw the scene pictured in the style of Jef’s paintings, rich with color and deep in emotion.”
A funeral Mass was celebrated by Msgr. Richard Lopez at the Cathedral of Christ the King, Atlanta, on Aug. 7.
Harvey said that at the Mass, Msgr. Lopez “called on all of us to meet Jef, and all those we have loved and lost in the Eucharist, and to do it as often as we can. This, dear friends, is not an obligation, but an unparalleled and unequalled opportunity offered us by Jesus Christ.”