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It is with great sadness we share the news that on August 22, 2022, Dr. Duncan Murray died peacefully in the Hinton Healthcare Centre at the age of 92, surrounded and supported by his loving family. We mourn his loss but rejoice in the memory of his extraordinary life.
Duncan was born January 5, 1930, in the Scottish Hebridean village of Vatisker, near Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis, to James and Marion (McIver) Murray. The fourth of six siblings whom he loved dearly, he spoke only Gaelic at home and learned English in primary school. A lover of poetry, reading and the spoken word, he had a remarkable memory and fondness for verses in Gaelic, English and Latin. The Vatisker Murrays were generous, kind, and hardworking yet lighthearted and playful - qualities Duncan acquired during his formative years and embodied throughout his life.
Duncan left the Isle of Lewis in 1948 to study Medicine at the University of Aberdeen. There, he met Elizabeth (Betty) Stuart, who was studying Nursing and Midwifery. Following his graduation in 1954, Duncan was conscripted to the Royal British Army Medical Corps, which allowed him to study Tropical Medicine in London and spend two years practicing Obstetrics and Paediatrics in Hong Kong.
Duncan returned to Aberdeen in 1957 where he and Betty were married. He persuaded her to set out for the Canadian Rockies and move to Hinton, Alberta later that same year to establish the Hinton Medical Clinic with Duncan’s medical school classmates, Ian and Anne Reid. While Duncan was always nostalgic for his native Scotland, he embraced all that the Hinton region had to offer, exploring the trails, studying the landscape and history, and considered it a wonderful place to raise his family.
He was proud to call Hinton home and dedicated himself to supporting the young community’s civic and medical needs. Professionally, Duncan practiced Family Medicine, emergency care, industrial medicine, surgery, paediatrics, anesthesia and obstetrics. He was proud to have delivered nearly 3,000 babies during his career and “The Baby Doc” took even greater pride in remembering them all by name. All of his patients, but especially those babies, held a special place in his heart.
In 1987 Duncan was selected as Alberta’s “Family Physician of the Year” and in 1995 he received the College of Physicians and Surgeons Merit Award for “services to the Medical Profession in Alberta and within the community.”
Duncan’s passion for sports (especially the Oilers and his hero, Wayne Gretzky) led him to establish Hinton’s first Junior and Old Timer hockey teams. He spearheaded the construction of Hinton’s first swimming pool and 9-hole golf course. In recognition of his contributions to the community, the Town Council honoured him by giving “The Dr. Duncan Murray Recreation Centre” his name. Duncan was also a School Trustee, Chairman of the Hinton Library Board, President of the Hinton Burns Club, proud Liberal, and member of the local Kinsmen, Lions, Golf and Curling Clubs. It came as no surprise that he was recognized as Hinton’s first “Citizen of the Year” in 1986 and received the 1992 Confederation Medal. And somewhere in between work and community involvement he also found time to fish, ski, read poetry, garden (his flùraichean brought him great joy) and raise three children!
After Duncan retired, he remained involved in medicine. He relocated to Newfoundland for a surgical locum which he enjoyed immensely and traveled to Africa twice on behalf of the Canadian Government and the Canadian International Development Agency to conduct a Medical Needs Assessment for the city of Chegutu and establish a Poly Clinic in the region. In his retirement he also served as External Chief of Staff in various Alberta communities and represented the Canadian Medical Protective Association as an expert witness in Family Medicine legal cases.
Duncan and Betty travelled extensively throughout the years but were happiest spending time in Hawaii and at their summer home on Mara Lake.
He lived life with kindness, tenderness, enthusiasm, and love for his friends, family and patients. Of all his accomplishments, Duncan was proudest of his loving family. He is survived by his loving wife Betty; daughter and son-in-law, Fiona and Aaron Galbraith (Hinton); daughter and son-in-law, Morag and Jim Garland (Edmonton); son and daughter-in-law, Ewen and Tanya Murray (Edson). He also leaves behind his dear nieces, nephews, and sister-in-law in Scotland, England, Canada and Norway. He will be especially missed by the brightest stars in his universe, his 6 grandchildren and 3 great grandchildren, Siobhan, Kara and Maeve (Houston, Texas); Seumas, Lauren and Cohen (Ottawa, ON); Kieran (Singapore); Calum (Edson); Kyle, Sierra and Graham (Edson); and Catriona (Edson). Duncan was predeceased by his parents, James and Marion; sisters, Margaret and Mairi Ann; brothers Angus, Norman and Neil.
A Celebration of Life will be held on Saturday, November 12, 2022, 2:00pm, Hinton Centre, 965 Switzer Drive.
Donations can be made in Duncan’s memory to the Hinton Healthcare Foundation: hintonhealthcare.ca (#11 107 Swanson Drive, Hinton, AB., T7V1H1)
“From the lone shieling of the misty island
Mountains divide us, and the waste of seas –
Yet still the blood is strong, the heart is Highland,
And we in dreams behold the Hebrides!”
Hinton Healthcare Foundation
#11-107 Swanson Drive, Hinton AB T7V 1H1