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Date of Passing: Sep 06, 2012

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MURRAY ANDERSON It is with profound sadness tinged with blissful joy that we announce the peaceful passing in the early morning hours of September 6, 2012, of our beloved friend and father, Murray Anderson. Born in Winnipeg Beach, MB, on October 26, 1925, Murray was the son of Peter and Martha Tomko, who died in childbirth. He was adopted by Haraldur Harry Anderson, co-owner of Thompson and Anderson, a dry goods store in Winnipeg Beach, and his second wife Valgerdur Oddson, both of Icelandic ancestry, and was welcomed by eight Anderson siblings. When he grew older, he became acquainted with his Tomko family. Murray showed an early interest in music, performing as a soloist by age six in a community band, singing his favourite childhood tune, Fit as a Fiddle. Two years later, he began piano lessons, taking the bus every Saturday morning into Winnipeg with his big sister Marjorie. At age 15, greatly impressed with Harry James, he switched to the trumpet. After graduating from high school in 1941, Murray moved to Vancouver to work at Boeing Aircraft where he installed front gun turrets on Catalina Flying Boats. In 1943, Murray took basic training in Orillia, ON, and later transferred to Camp Borden, ON, where he trained to be a driver. By that time, the war was winding down, and he was assigned to the Canadian Armoured Corps band where he enjoyed playing all the solos in the six-member trumpet section. Murray played reveille every morning, just to have the power to wake up everybody else , was always an eager volunteer to play at church services when some of his buddies didn't feel up to it, but mostly he joined in meeting troop trains and marching up Yonge Street in support of newly-discharged soldiers. Beginning in May, 1946, Murray joined three Winnipeg dance bands, playing for dances six nights a week at the Aragon Ballroom. By the 1950s, he was leading his own bands, playing in Winnipeg and surrounding communities, on his own radio programs on CKY and CKRC, and on the road, entertaining throughout Manitoba and Saskatchewan. He was thrilled when his band, the CKY Playboys, was invited to play for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers whenever they were Grey Cup contenders. In 1988, Murray moved to Salt Spring Island, following his sister Marjorie and her husband, the late Sydney Sage. Soon, he was a frequent entertainer at private parties, but most people heard him at the Legion or in the clubhouse at the Salt Spring Golf and Country Club, sometimes playing the trumpet with one hand and the piano with the other. From 1996 to 2002, he played piano for dining and dancing at the Harbour House Hotel, always striking up the favourite tunes of each of his many fans as they came through the door. Until recently, Murray also played at the Extended Care Unit of Lady Minto Hospital, at Greenwoods Eldercare facility, and at Braehaven, where, since 1999, he was joined by Helen Hinchliff. Together, they performed hundreds of popular songs dating from the 1900s through the 1970s for the enjoyment of the residents. In 2003, Greenwoods awarded Murray a special plaque declaring him a Volunteer Extraordinaire for his many years of playing for the residents and naming April 24 Murray Anderson Day. In 2005 Murray dusted off his trumpet and participated in a reunion of Winnipeg musicians from the 1950s. The event was hosted by his one-time drummer, Owen Clark, who made this tribute to Murray: I was very fortunate to have a leader like you as a mentor. [You taught me] the standards, all those tunes you could play at the drop of a hat. I also learned pacing, how to read a crowd, ... and to update the repertoire [among many other things that] have served me well my whole life and were the basis of my becoming a bandleader. For all these things I thank you. Murray's Salt Spring Island friend and fellow bandsman, Denny Thomas, often said that when Murray visited God's table, he took three helpings of music, but Murray also took two helpings of athletics. He played hockey and golf and was a championship curler and long-distance runner. He was often seen jogging around Ganges well into his 80s. We have lost a lover, a father, a strong-willed athlete, and an extraordinary musical genius whose love, goodwill, and desire to share his music with others brought joy to thousands throughout his long life. He is survived by his partner, Helen Hinchliff; son Harold Anderson of Duncan; daughter Janice (Anderson) O'Leary (Joseph) of Winnipeg; granddaughters, Mary and Ruth Anderson of Ladysmith; sisters Marjorie (Anderson) Sage of Salt Spring Island and Desert Hot Springs, CA; Anne (Tomko) Rogoski and Elsie (Tomko) Zelenitsky (Alan) of Winnipeg Beach; and his brother Lawrence (Marge) Tomko of Arborg, MB. He also leaves many nieces and nephews. A service celebrating the life of Murray Anderson will be held at the Salt Spring United Church on Friday, September 21 at 2:00 p.m. A service will also be held at the United Church in Winnipeg Beach, 1:00 p.m., Friday, November 2. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Murray Anderson Fund of the Greenwoods Foundation, 133 Blain Road, Salt Spring Island, BC, V8K 1Z9. We are deeply grateful to the staff at Greenwoods for their extraordinarily compassionate and loving care, not only for Murray but also for us during our week-long vigil. We also wish to thank Murray's very special doctor, Ron Reznick, for his love and care. Our gratitude and thanks also go to Murray's caregivers: Jessica Garceau and Maha Price. Murray's spirit is singing: I'm fit as a fiddle, ready for love, I can jump over the moon up above, I'm fit as a fiddle and ready for love. I haven't a worry, haven't a care, Feel like a feather floating on air. I'm fit as a fiddle and ready for love! Soon the church bells will be ringing And I'll march with ma and pa, The church bells will be ringing With a hey-nonny-nonny and a hotch-cha-cha! Hi diddle diddle my baby's okay; Ask me a riddle and here's what I'll say I'm fit as a fiddle and ready for love! Now he has a whole new audience to entertain.
Publish Date: Sep 15, 2012

MURRAY ANDERSON Peacefully, surrounded by family, Murray passed away on Thursday, September 6, 2012 at the Greenwoods Care Facility, Salt Spring Island, BC. Complete obituary notice to follow in Saturday's paper.
Publish Date: Sep 11, 2012

As published in the Winnipeg Free Press on Sep 15, 2012

Condolences & Memories (11 entries)

  • Janice, my dear sister friend, Over the years you have shared with me the many wonderful memories you have of your father. The stories were incredible, exciting to listen to, and the pictures! What a remarkable life! What a musical legend! I remember how excited you were when he gave you that piano. I remember you and I singing as you played , "Lean on Me" at that piano. You certainly have your father's love for music, you have his musical spirit. The song is ended, but the melody lingers on. That melody lingers on in you Janice. - Posted by: Joanne McCarthy (Friend of Janice) on: Aug 20, 2014

  • Murray's mom (Mrs. Anderson) financed my first set of drums at Murray's request and I worked it off playing for him at $5.00 a dance. Seemed to take forever but it was fun. - Posted by: dick cain (old friend) on: Oct 28, 2012

  • Beautiful tribute to a local legend. To the family - So sorry to hear of your loss. I remember Murray coming to my moms house (Daisy Jonasson). They played todether in a band in the 40s called The Slingerland Band! Mom played the piano and Murray played the Trumpet. There was always alot of music in our home and I was proud to say he had touched our lives with his music as well. Great Memories. My mom spoke of him often. Our Deepest Sympathies to all of you Shirley Ann, Johnny Sigurdson Riverton, Manitoba - Posted by: Shirley Ann & Johnny Sigurdson (friend) on: Oct 02, 2012

  • Janice so sorry to read about the passing of your father. From reading the tribute in the newspaper he enriched the lives of so many with his music and persona. I will never forget the music poster you gave me to show my parents as my brother shares the same name of Murray. Your face lit up as you spoke of his musical talents and of the fond memories you and Joe had shared with your dad in the many visits over the years. This also is his legacy to you as through these memories your father will continue to live on in you and your family for generations to come. Thank you for sharing these wonderful memories. My condolences to you and your family. - Posted by: Pat Anderson (friend) on: Sep 27, 2012

  • So sorry to hear of Murray's passing. I new him when he played for the Pattersons play boys band. - Posted by: Lorna Patterson ( Jonnasson) (Friend ) on: Sep 26, 2012

  • What a wonderful life story. Sorry to hear of your loss Jan (and Joe). - Posted by: Shelley Maslow (friend) on: Sep 20, 2012

  • So sorry to hear of your loss, so uplifted in reading this life story, what an amazing tribute. Sending hugs and love to you Janice (& Joe) and to your extended family. Sharon & John O'Leary - Posted by: Sharon O'Leary (Sister in law) on: Sep 18, 2012

  • Although we did not know Murray personally, we danced many hours to the great music at the Aragon. We hired one of the orchestras to play for our wedding dance in June, 1955. Thanks for the memories. - Posted by: Art & Doreen Beals (Aragon Ballroom dancers in the fifties) on: Sep 16, 2012

  • I worked with Murray at Gambles many many years ago. - Posted by: Gary McConkey (Friend) on: Sep 15, 2012

  • my family & I am sorry to hear about you losing your Dad. We knew Murrey & family when they lived in Blake Gardens I would look after Harold & Janice when they were little. Many happy memories we all had. Sorry Janice & Harold for your loss. Isabel & Family - Posted by: Isabel Evanochko (Friend & neighbor) on: Sep 15, 2012

  • Janice and Joe O'Leary - The shock as Murray's name jumped right out at me on my computer screen. Your Dad loved life, Janice, and he adored you. My heartfelt sympathy is extended to you and Joe, and also to Helen, who gave Murray such joy. I have many fond and cherished memories of our yearly visits with Murray with my own Dad, Don - the dynamic musical duo that they were, in the living room at your home; Murray sitting at the piano, his fingers flying across the keys, and my Dad, Don, strumming his Martin guitar and singing the "oldies" with "Champ" chirping along, and "Nora's Ribs" simmering in the oven. "Ole Murray" as my Dad always called him. A true friend, a gentleman, and a prince of a man, and his exemplary musical expertise at the piano will always be acknowledged and remembered. Thinking of you all. Take care. Marilyn Gelinas (Hadaller) - Posted by: Marilyn Gelinas (Hadaller) (daughter of Don Hadaller, life-long friend ) on: Sep 11, 2012

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