In Memory of

James

Francis

"Jim"

Murray

Obituary for James Francis "Jim" Murray

James (“Jim”) Francis Murray, 75, a longtime Chelmsford resident, passed away peacefully on April 10, 2024, surrounded by his loving family. He was the beloved husband of Dorothy M. (Sheehan) Murray. The two were married for 55 years and shared two sons and six grandchildren.

Jim was born in Winthrop, Massachusetts, on November 24, 1948, and was the son of the late James Patrick and Catherine Ellen (Masterson) Murray. He grew up in Billerica as the oldest of seven siblings. Jim graduated in 1966 as an art major from Boston’s Don Bosco Technical High School and went on to earn an associate degree in civil engineering at the University of Lowell. He enlisted in the United States Navy in 1969 and served four years in the SeaBees construction battalion where he did surveying and soil testing. During his service, Jim was headquartered at the Davisville Naval Base in Rhode Island and was deployed to Guam and Puerto Rico, and he helped to build an airstrip on Diego Garcia, a remote island in the Indian Ocean. He was also deployed at Camp David during the Nixon presidency as a volunteer firefighter. He had a lifelong love for the sea, and years later he earned his captains license and enjoyed boating in his Celebrity Crownline Cruiser.

Jim will be fondly remembered as a family man with a larger-than-life personality. His long list of talents and interests proved him to be a true Renaissance man who excelled as an artist, builder and outdoor enthusiast. For nearly 25 years, he worked as a technical writer and illustrator before the CAD era for such prestigious companies as Polaroid, Raytheon, RCA and Sanders. His projects included the Patriot missile system and the Strategic Defense Initiative, nicknamed Star Wars. He had an entrepreneur’s spirit and started his own masonry business in 1977 to restore historic stonework and create beautiful custom chimneys and dry stone walls. Jim enjoyed gardening and tended his own family garden in addition to working his 80-acre tree farm in Maine. He loved to build things and work with his hands. In addition to building his own television and computer, he assembled a geodesic dome in his backyard, then took it apart to transport it to Maine, where he reassembled it as a family vacation retreat.

Jim’s life story includes many unusual experiences. In 2004 he played the role of Skipper on The Real Gilligan’s Island reality show and was invited to appear on The Ellen Show and The Larry Elder Show as well as local cable television shows. He was cast in a commercial for Gillette and appeared as an extra in two movies. In his later years, his trademark white beard earned him the role of Santa Claus at local holiday events, a role that he particularly enjoyed. Some of his most treasured memories include family trips to Montana and Florida, as well as time spent on his boat and his many building projects. Jim was a member of the NRA and the International Longshoreman’s Association Local 805. He worked as a longshoreman at Boston Harbor for 12 years before retiring in 2021 and remained active afterwards as a delegate.

Jim is survived by his wife Dorothy of Chelmsford; son Sean Murray and wife Paula of Ellenton, Florida; son Eric Murray and partner Laura Green of Chelmsford; and six grandchildren: Eric Murray Jr., Connor Murray and wife Alison, Allison Murray, Ryan Murray, Gavin Murray and Jenna Murray. He is also survived by sisters Janet Murray and husband Paul Eterian, Jean McCreary and Johanna Rose, brother Joseph Murray and wife Sara, and many nephews, nieces and cousins. He is predeceased by brother John Murray and sister Joyce Henson.

For those who desire, memorial donations may be made in Jim’s name to the Tunnels to Towers Foundation, 2361 Hylan Boulevard, Staten Island, NY 10306 or plant a tree in Jim's memory.

A celebration of life event will be held at a date to be determined.