Father John Elmer Murray November 23, 1937 - May 3, 2023
Rev. John “Jack” E. Murray Jr., 85, passed away May 3, 2023, in Butte. A beloved diocesan Catholic Priest for 60 years to the Diocese of Helena. A lifetime dedicated to the Lord serving the spiritual needs of all people. Father Murray was born in Butte on Nov. 23, 1937, to parents John Elmer Murray and Margaret O’Neill Murray. He was raised in Deer Lodge, graduating from Powell County High School. Jack attended Gonzaga University in Spokane, Wash., and graduated from Carroll College in Helena, with a degree in Theology. He completed his priesthood vocational studies at Mount St. Bernard Seminary in Dubuque, Iowa, in 1963. Bishop Raymond G. Hunthausen ordained Father Murray on June 1,1963, at the Cathedral of Saint Helena. The following day Father Murray offered his first Mass at the Immaculate Conception Church, his childhood parish in Deer Lodge. His first assignment was the summer of 1963 as Associate Pastor at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Butte. In July 1963, Father Murray was appointed Associate Pastor at St. Michael’s Parish in Conrad. He returned to Butte in August 1968 as Associate Pastor to Sacred Heart Parish. Later in July 1970 he was assigned Associate Pastor at St. Ann Parish in Butte. From 1968 to 1970 he served on the Faculty Board of Butte Central Catholic High School. His first Pastoral assignment was Little Flower Parish in Browning from 1972 until 1982. In July of 1982 he was assigned Pastor to St. William Parish in Shelby. In August of 1988 Father did a sabbatical in Ireland for one year. Upon rturning he served as Pastor at Anaconda Catholic Community. Father Murray remained in Anaconda from 1989 till entering Senior Status in July of 2008; he then returned to his family home in Deer Lodge. Father Murray served on boards for the Diocese of Helena, the Carroll College Board of Directors and many years on the Diocesan Priest Personnel Board. In Senior Status Father Murray substituted for many Priests in the diocese. He traveled from western Montana to North, South, East and West in all types of weather to serve as substitute. He was very concerned with the shortages of priests. He understood the value of time off from priestly duties, but, most importantly, ensuring the people received the cherished Bread of Life. Even while suffering poor health, Father Murray persisted in meeting the needs of the people. Known as the “Hiking Priest,” he climbed the mountains of Montana and the world. From his youth, Father Jack cherished the outdoors. Fishing, river rafting, hiking, camping and biking were all activities he extracted the peace and strength found in nature with. Father selected the final resting place from his boyhood where he spent hiking Mount Powell located west of Deer Lodge. While selecting the site, Father Jack’s comment was, “I could look at this view forever:” With a passion for football, Father Murray intensely watched Notre Dame games. Best not to disturb his game days with phone calls or an unexpected drop in visit. Father Murray led pilgrimages to the Holy Land, walking the St. James Way Camino de Santiago, The Kerry Way of Ireland, the Andes of South America, the Himalayas and the Great Wall of China. During retirement he visited almost every continent while serving as a chaplain aboard cruise ships. He was proceeded in death by his parents, Elmer and Margaret Murray of Deer Lodge, and a cousin, Lt. Daniel John O’Neill of Butte. He is survived by numerous cousins including Jean O’Neill Erickson of Ronan; Dr. William Brennick of Butte; Ellen Crowley of Vancouver, Wash.; Greg Murray of Bozeman; and Brent Murray of Great Falls. Father Jack considered as family his fellow priests, deacons and nuns all in union with their vocations and, most importantly, the cherished members of parishes he was ordained to serve. Father Murray was interred at Hillcrest Cemetery in Deer Lodge on Friday, May 12. In lieu of flowers, memorials in honor of Father Murray are suggested to Immaculate Conception Parish, PO Box 786, Deer Lodge, MT 59722, or to the Dioceses of Helena, “Priest Retirement Fund,” written in the memo, 630 N. Last Chance Gulch, Helena, MT 59601, or to a Catholic Church parish of the donor’s choice. Please visit www.axelsonfuneralhome.com to offer the family a condolence or to share a memory of Father Murray.
JoAnne Williams January 1, 1957 - May 5, 2023
“Greatly loved, sadly missed, forever in our hearts and eternally in our souls.” - Unknown On May 5, 2023 after a two-year battle with cancer, Mrs. JoAnne Williams, 66, of Gold Creek peacefully passed away. She was lovingly surrounded by her family in the beautiful home of her eldest daughter, Julie, in Clinton. JoAnne was born on Jan. 1, 1957, a bouncing bundle of joy to her parents, Louis and Barbara Wohlwend in Lidgerwood, N.D. Many of her fondest childhood memories were growing up with her five brothers on the family farm. She graduated from Lidgerwood High School in the spring of 1975, and continued on to college in Wahpeton, N.D. Shortly thereafter she was accepted into the Montana Tech Nursing Program in Butte. She graduated as a Licensed Practical Nurse. JoAnne enjoyed her job whether in hospitals (Powell County Memorial, Granite County and St. Patrick’s), Home Health Care or on the road as a traveling nurse. She loved all her patients and everyone truly became part of her heart. After 29 years of service, JoAnne hung up her scrubs and retired in 2016. In 1978 JoAnne met Greg Williams; the rest is history. The two lovebirds were married on March 10, 1979, in her hometown of Lidgerwood. Together they built a life in Gold Creek and raised four children Wayne, Julie, David and Deserae. JoAnne put her heart and soul into her family, career and her community. She was a member of the Gold Creek Community Homemakers. She enjoyed participating in the annual turkey shoot and playing pinochle at the community hall. Her most cherished and favorite times were taking her children back to the places she grew up including the Wohlwend family farm in North Dakota and their cottage on Lake Sybil in Minnesota. Having a love for the great outdoors of Montana, summer camping trips with her husband and family included Canyon Ferry, Flathead Lake and Browns Reservoir. As her children grew up and started families of their own, she discovered that there was nothing in the world that could compare to being promoted to Grandma. She loved each and every one of them with all her heart. With personalities of their own they all brought her immense joy, amusement and delight. JoAnne was preceded in death by her grandparents Clarence and Hattie Bateman, Clayton and Mable Wohlwend; her parents Louis and Barbara Wohlwend; and her brothers Wayne and Richard Wohlwend. She is survived by her husband Greg and her children Wayne Williams, Julie (Robert) Lane, David (Mindy) Williams and Deserae (Donnie) Anderson; her grandchildren: Westin, Tristin, Emery, Rylie, Kate, Emma, Quinton, Colter, Kelby, Alex and Abby; her brothers: Roger, Leo and Clayton. In lieu of a funeral, a celebration of life will be held at a future date. We would love to hear how JoAnne has touched your life. Please send your condolences and/or memories of JoAnne to 633 North Old Stage Rd. Gold Creek, MT 59733. “There are some who bring a light so great to the world, that even after they have gone the light remains.” - Unknown