Passings: Alexander Murray

A field of flowers at sunset

York University Professor Emeritus Alexander Lovell Murray died peacefully at home on Feb. 11 at the age of 95.

Alexander Lovell Murray
Alexander Lovell Murray

Before beginning his career in academia, Murray pursued his interest in urban and social change over the course of his post-secondary and graduate studies, including a bachelor of arts at McMaster University, a master of arts at King’s College London and a doctor of philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania.

After completing his degrees, Murray settled in Toronto with his wife, Laura, whom he met when he was 15 and was married to for 70 years. There, Murray became a faculty member at the then-new York University, where he co-founded both the Department of Urban Studies and Faculty of Environmental Studies (now the Faculty of Environmental & Urban Change).

“I fondly remember Alex Murray, the ‘(Gentle)Man in Black’ with his fashion sense and aversion to colour, and his commitment to inquiry,” said Murray’s former colleague Lewis Molot, a York University professor emeritus and senior scholar. “He shall be missed.”

In his personal life, Murray loved the outdoors, cooking and welcoming friends and family into his home. Conversely, his working hours were spent trying to solve many of society’s biggest problems, from homelessness to food insecurity. He generously donated his time, skill and experience to philanthropic causes close to his heart, taking on leadership roles within the Toronto Chapter of the Community Planning Association of Canada, the National Housing Subcommittee of the Canadian Council on Social Development, Grey County’s Grey Association for Better Planning, the Canadian Council on Human Resources in Environmental Industries and the Toronto Food Policy Council.

In recognition of the late professor’s many hours of volunteer service and four decades of contributions to the South Rosedale Residents’ Association, the park across the street from Murray’s Rosedale house, where he and his wife lived since 1963, was renamed the Alex Murray Parkette in 2010 – a meaningful tribute from the City of Toronto that will symbolize his legacy for years to come.

A celebration of Murray’s life will be held in the spring.