Murray Luke Townsend, Jr. 1919-2016
Murray Luke Townsend, Jr., of Middleborough died June 5, 2016 at the Golden Living Center — Oak Hill in Middleborough, Massachusetts. He was married to the late Evelyn Reid Townsend (1919-2014) for 72 years and the father of Cheryl Townsend Gilkes, Murray L. (“Lukey”) Townsend, III, Frederick J. Townsend (1956-2006), and David Reid Townsend (d. 1958). Murray was born July 6, 1919, in Indianapolis, Indiana and raised in Greencas tle, Indiana, and Baltimore, Maryland. He was a son of Murray L. Townsend, Sr., and Novella Foster Townsend.
After graduation from Frederick Douglass High School in Baltimore, Maryland, he attended Morehouse College in Atlanta Georgia, where he was graduated with the class of 1942. He majored in business and sociology, played football, pursued interests in acting and drama, and was initiated into Psi Chapter of the Omega Psi Phi fraternity, serving as chapter president. During his senior year, Murray was drafted into the army where he served honorably in Italian combat during World War II as an infantry officer with the 366th Infantry Regiment, receiving the Bronze Star with Oak Leaf Cluster, the Purple Heart, and the combat infantryman badge.
After graduation from Boston University Law School, he was recalled to serve in the Korean conflict where he received the Silver Star and attained the rank of captain. After his honorable discharge, he worked for the United States Postal Service followed by service with the Internal Revenue Service’s Alcohol and Tobacco Tax Division (now the A.T.F.), followed by a move to the Small Business Administration where he specialized in contract compliance. He retired in 1981.
Murray met the love of his life, Evelyn, and married her on August 31, 1942 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. World War II brought the Townsends to Massachusetts (Fort Devens) where they first settled in Boston’s South End, moving to Cambridge, Massachusetts where they lived until moving to Middleborough, Massachusetts, in 1962. Four children were born of that marriage, two of whom (Frederick and David) preceded Murray and Evelyn in death. They were devoted parents and advocates for their children, especially their son who was diagnosed with Autism in 1960 when very little was known about the causes and prognoses of this condition. Murray and Evelyn were full-time parents until 2001, when their son entered a group home.
Murray L. Townsend, Jr. was a dedicated Christian and churchman and he was active in many aspects of civic, fraternal, and community life. He was baptized at the Peoples’ Baptist Church in Boston, Massachusetts, moving his membership in 1949 to the Union Baptist Church in Cambridge. There he served as a Sunday School teacher, church clerk, and director of the Baptist Youth Fellowship (B.Y.F.). He was ordained a Deacon serving on the board until his move in 1965 to the Central Baptist Church (now Meetinghouse Church) in Middleborough, Massachusetts, where he also served significantly.
He was a life member of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity as well as a 50-year member of Union Lodge No. 4, F & A. M. of New Bedford, Massachusetts, where he served two terms as Most Worshipful Master. Over his life he was also affiliated with a wide range of civic and civil rights groups including the Mental Health Association, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society, and AMVETS to name a few. Please visit the Egger and Ashley Funeral Home website for more details. (www.eggerandashleyfh.com).
Please note that floral tributes at the National Cemetery are highly restricted. Therefore, in lieu of flowers, we request that donations be made to the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity — Psi Chapter Endowed Scholarship Fund of Morehouse College; checks should be made payable to “Morehouse College” with the scholarship named in the memo line; gifts should be mailed to Morehouse College, Office of Institutional Advancement, 830 Westview Drive, SW, Atlanta GA 30314.