WORCESTER --- Three-sport WPI Hall of Famer Catherine (Cathy) Murray passed away this week at her home in Berkeley Heights, NJ.
Murray accumulated 10 varsity letters at WPI in the sports of basketball, field hockey, and softball, while also finding time to participate on the women's club soccer team and the outdoor track and field team.
Cathy was a loyal and devoted friend, and maintained strong friendships with people from every stage of her life. Those friends rallied around her unselfishly when cancer first touched her in 2005, and helped her power through her 14-year battle with the disease. So too did the joy and laughter she generated at every gathering she was part of. She seemed to will others to be happy with her through laughter and singing. She found a way to face a challenge in everything she did and bring others along with her on those challenges, whether for laughter or thrills.
"Mur" brought that fun and passion as she built support for her favorite causes. Inspired by her journey as a cancer patient and survivor, her Harwood Gang of lifelong friends raised tens of thousands of dollars to fund cancer research with Bingo Nights, Fun Runs, and Great Race contests.
"Cathy (aka Mur or the Glue) was a wonderful young lady, an excellent student and a great athlete," remarked longtime WPI faculty athletics representative Rick Sisson. "It was great to work with her in the lab or classroom. She made everyone around her feel better."
On the basketball court at WPI, Murray scored a remarkable 1,081 career points, while dishing out 641 assists and grabbing 323 rebounds as a point guard. She helped lead the basketball team to the ECAC championship in 1986-87. That season she was named to the All-American New England basketball second team, the New England Women's Basketball Association All-star second team, and the Worcester Tip-Off Classic all-tourney team. Murray also played on the first WPI Women's Basketball team to appear in the NCAA tournament.
"Cathy was the best point guard I coached while at WPI," remembered her head coach and fellow WPI Hall of Famer Sue Chapman. "She was one of those players every team needs because she understood the game so well and could act as a coach on the floor. She was a great teammate, leader and friend."
In field hockey, she was named a member of the 1986 state tournament all-tourney team and were a member of the WPI team that won the ECAC championship in 1986.
Her athletic accomplishments won her the WPI Coaches Award in 1983 and the Varsity Club Award in 1987 and she was elected captain of the basketball team in 1985 and 1986; captain of the field hockey team in 1986; captain of the softball team in 1987.
Her record of achievement extended beyond the field. Murray was elected to the Tau Beta Pi honor society and the Pi Tau Sigma mechanical engineering honor society. In 1987, she won the ASM Outstanding MQP Award. She was also vice president of varsity club. Murray served as an assistant softball coach while she worked on a master's degree (1990) in materials engineering.
After WPI she served as a project manager focused on Environmental Health and Safety in a career which took her to companies like Exxon, Colgate, and Givaudan. While proud of earning a patent in 1994 for her scientific contributions, Cathy took most satisfaction from supporting the people who worked with her.
"Mur did things right," remembered Dr. Isa Bar-On, Professor of Mechanical Engineering. "Given an assignment, it would be done, and done correctly, no matter how challenging. You never heard how difficult it was or how many hours it took. She saw it as her responsibility to do it like that. She was just as committed to her friends, and of course, her family. Once work was done, it was time to play, and play was just as important, be it basketball or 'Digger'. She taught all three of my kids both. Her Digger skills were second only to her sports skills. When we met last, about two years ago, my now adult sons brought with them the modernized version of Digger. There they were, three adults, playing Digger at a Starbucks in Manhattan, the two young man unable to beat the 'Digger Queen'. They enjoyed every minute of it. This is how I want to remember her, engaged, laughing, with friends. May her memory be blessed."
"This is a big loss for the WPI Athletics community," said current WPI head women's basketball coach and Associate AD and SWA Cherise Galasso. "I've spoken with a lot of alums and everyone is heartbroken at the news. Cathy was such a bright light in this world. Always laughing and had a kind word for everyone. And she was so incredibly talented. I remember one of the first alumni games we hosted after I got to WPI watching her play and thinking wow could she suit up for us today! The biggest thing that stuck out to me was the loyalty...Cathy loved WPI, her experiences here as a student and an athlete meant a lot to her and boy did everyone who knew Cathy adore her."