By Myron Love
BRANDON, MAN. – Clair Murray, the patriarch of the Murray Auto Group, is being remembered for his kindness, compassion and dedication to his customers, his staff and his community.
“We worked side by side in adjoining offices for 30 years,” says oldest son, Doug, who is CEO of the Murray Auto Group. “He never once reprimanded me. His business acumen and basic business and people instincts were something to behold.”
“Dad loved cars more than anyone else I know,” says Dan who runs the Winnipeg Murray Chevrolet store. “He always claimed that he never worked a day in his life because he loved what he was doing. And he had a personal connection with every staff member.”
Clair Murray passed away on Nov. 21, at his home in Brandon, Man., at the age of 89. With his passing, he joins an ever-growing list of Manitoba industry leaders and visionaries – men such as Bob Chipman, Joe Rewucki, Maurice Thompson and Dave Dveris – who have passed away over the past few years.
These were men who by hard work and personality either built thriving auto dealerships from the ground up or started in business with their fathers and carried the business to much greater heights later on their own initiatives.
Clair spent virtually his entire life in the auto industry and continued to drop into the Murray family flagship store in Brandon almost to the end of that storied life.
Murray’s father, Andy, founded the first Murray dealership in Souris in 1926, the year after Clair’s birth. Clair and his brother, Ewart, took over the business shortly after the war.
In 1960, Clair purchased Brandon Automobiles Ltd. and relocated his family to Brandon. In 1971, he founded Murray Chevrolet Olds Cadillac. In 1986, with his sons beginning to join him in business, he began a program of expansion as a result of which the Murray Auto Group has become the largest family-owned auto group in Canada with more than 30 dealerships across Canada.
Sons Doug, Dan, Paul and Chris each operate dealerships under the Murray Group umbrella. Dan notes that Clair was proud to have all four of his sons in business with him.
To manage the other stores under the group’s auspices, Clair formed partnerships in most cases with former Murray Group staff members who had proven their worth.
A licensed pilot, he was known to pilot his own plane from store to store to check on progress.
He had been recognized by General Motors as Canada’s longest-standing GM dealer.
He was survived by his wife Millie of 60 years.
A celebration of his life was held on Dec. 7 at Central United Church in Brandon.
The Murray family is asking those wishing to honour his memory to make a donation to Brandon Area Community Foundation, DPO Box 22096, Brandon, MB R7A 6Y9. Messages of condolence may be placed at www.brockiedonovan.com.