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Murray Journal

Current Murray High students honor alumni

Oct 31, 2016 01:39PM ● By Julie Slama

On display at Murray Museum is memorabilia of Murray High School’s 100-year history. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

Murray, Utah - Track medals with dulled ribbons, pressed prom corsages with brittle petals and faded school Merry Go Round newspapers are some of the cherished possessions from early Murray High students that are on display this year at the Murray City Museum.

They may also have told some of the stories of the early students and graduates of Murray High, five of which were honored Sept. 23 at the school’s 100th year celebration assembly before its homecoming game.

The five former students who walked the red carpet for the pep assembly to the applause of students included 99-year-old Georgia Riley Tripp, who attended Murray High but because of The Depression stopped attending school to help earn money for her family; 93-year-old Ruby Losser Douglas, class of 1941; 92-year-old Margie Shaw Hamblin, class of 1942; 92-year-old Wally Wahlen, class of 1942; and 92-year-old Phyllis Turpin Bills, class of 1942. Each wore a corsage and several had family members in attendance.

Hamblin’s sister, Melba Shaw Mash, is believed to be the school’s oldest living graduate at 100 years old and having graduated in 1934, said Principal John Goldhardt. She was unable to attend the celebration.

“They all had stories to tell about what their experiences were,” he said. “Georgia Tripp was determined to walk across the red carpet and not be in a wheelchair and she made it with her walker to a standing ovation. Wally Wahlen was crying — he was so excited to be back home at Murray High. It was really special.”

In addition to the Murray High students being honored, about 12 former administrators were recognized.

Goldhardt said the plan was to again honor them at halftime of the homecoming football game, but inclement weather cancelled that celebration.

“We wanted to honor the people and let them know we appreciated what they’ve done for Murray. The first principal and faculty set the tone for Murray High. The school was to close after that first year of five graduates, but they stood up and said education is important to this community. Now, 100 years later, we’ve had thousands of graduates,” he said.

The year-long celebration continues as the Murray City Museum has five prominent display cases filled of Murray High graduates’ memorabilia, some from its early days and others, showcasing generations of family members who have graduated from the high school.

“We started calling people and asking people who knew people to try to locate some of the earliest students,” said Mary Ann Kirk, Murray City’s cultural arts director. “Some of them were our grand marshals in the (4th of July) parade and others heard about the display and offered to share their stories.”

The museum’s grand opening of the display was held Sept. 24, but the exhibit at 5025 State St. will remain open through the school year, Kirk said.

“The stories are amazing. Margie Shaw Hamblin’s sewing teacher Miss Marsh suggested girls sew their prom dresses instead of buying them. So Margie sewed her own dress costing $5 or $6 at the time, then she was selected as one of five students to wear their dresses at a fashion show at BYU. There, she was told by the Salt Lake City mayor (Abe Jenkins) it was the prettiest,” Kirk said.

That dress is one of several on display. Joining it is fashion design work from illustrator Rachel Kezerian, class of 1940 who served as Murray High’s yearbook editor; a 1931 portrait of the school’s basketball team with Joe Johnsen on the championship team, who later had his grandsons Jeff, Britton and Brandon play for the championship Spartans 65 years later; Margaret Bryan’s 1924 graduation dress, a 1939 yearbook called Yarrum (Murray spelled backwards, the only year it was called that), a wooden bowl made in shop class, a business handwriting certificate, studentbody officer sweaters, a report card, a silver ring and ceramic vase made in shop class, articles about the posture parade, a Murray High pennant and other items.

“The display shows the real culture of Murray and Murray High through the years and the stories of real people come to life through this exhibit,” Kirk said.