- The Washington Times - Friday, January 30, 2009

Franny Murray got out of the U.S. Army Air Corps after serving as a B-25 gunner in the South Pacific during World War II, enrolled at Catholic University in 1946 and started working for the athletic department as a student.

He never left.

After graduating and competing for the boxing team, Murray became the equipment manager, a job he still holds at age 86. Unofficially, he also has worked as an assistant boxing coach, acting athletic director and trainer. He has managed intramurals, facilities and sports information operations.

But mainly, the D.C. native was and is a friend and confidant of coaches and students, staff and alumni. He remains a fixture, if not an institution, on the Northeast campus. And Saturday during halftime of its men’s basketball game against Drew University, Catholic will rename the basketball court at DuFour Center for Francis E. “Franny” Murray.

Affable but notoriously modest, Murray can hold forth on a number of subjects — except one.

“I’m quite excited,” he said of the honor, “although I really don’t want to say anything. I’m not much for talking about myself.”

Others, however, are more than happy to do it.

“His dedication to our university is pretty remarkable,” athletic director Mike Allen said. “He’s been a staple of Catholic University athletics for 61 years. I’ve never met anyone who connected in such a positive way with so many people.

“He just has an uncanny ability to make people feel comfortable, and when you work with college students, that’s such a great skill. He’s a really special person, and we’re lucky to have him.”

Murray, a father of eight, said being around kids has kept him on the job for so long.

“I had eight of my own, so I must like ‘em,” he said. “Maybe it keeps me young. I don’t know what else I would do. I don’t have any hobbies. I like being over here.”

Murray, who also will be honored at a dinner Saturday, said he expects to say about as much — or as little — as he did during his induction to the school’s athletic Hall of Fame in 1988.

“Thank you, and that’s it,” he said. “I don’t want to keep ‘em there too long.”

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