Obituary: Thomas Murie
Music teacher, longtime Claremonter
Thomas Murie, a 47-year resident of Claremont and longtime San Marino schools band director and music teacher, died in October 2018 at the age of 85.
He led the music programs at the San Marino elementary schools and Huntington Intermediate School, where he met his wife Kathlyn Murie, who taught English at the school for 27 years. Mr. Murie later taught at San Marino High School. He retired from teaching in 1988 after a 29-year career.
He is survived by his wife of 55 years, Kathlyn Murie of Claremont.
In lieu of a traditional obituary, his wife asked that the following remembrance, written by Claremont resident Don Gould, be published. She has asked that gifts in honor of Thomas Murie be directed to the San Marino Schools Foundation at smsf.org/donate.
“Tom Murie, or Mr. Murie, as we’ll always remember him, had a major positive impact on my life.
I remember first meeting Mr. Murie on his weekly visits to Carver Elementary School to check in on the band students that might one day populate his Huntington Junior High School varsity band. We were a bit like the farm team that develops players for the major leagues. I’d been pounding on kitchen pots and pans since first grade, so the snare drum was a natural evolution for me.
Mr. Murie was already a bit of a legend in my household. Older brother Alan had played clarinet in the varsity band and regaled us with stories. So, I was somewhat in awe when Mr. Murie would visit lowly Carver. He always patiently guided me—that’s a whole note; that’s a half; and that’s a quarter.
Mr. Murie loved music and that love was infectious. He loved his students, too, though he often adopted a gruff exterior. How else to deal with unruly adolescents? Just underneath the surface, though, I always detected just a hint of a giggle—maybe Mr. Murie laughing at his own attempt to play the scary ogre that would get us students to pay attention. I can still hear his white plastic baton striking the black metal music stand. ‘Cut!’
Mr. Murie cared about the quality of the band’s music, as well as the development of each musician. He impressed upon us all the importance of practice and taking pride in our musicianship. Occasionally he would reminisce fondly about playing trumpet in some group during his college days in Reno, Nevada.
At Huntington Junior High, the highlight each fall was playing at a San Marino High School football game halftime show. Day after day, we would parade around the Huntington playground, playing the one march we were to perform at SMHS. I can still hum one; I believe the composer was K. L. King.
Over three years at Huntington, Mr. Murie exposed us to so many different composers and musical styles. This sowed the seeds of my love for music. I went on to play in jazz and rock bands in high school, and then with the Pomona College symphony orchestra in college and for many years after. At 50, I took up classical piano and now practice almost every day. I listen to Classical KUSC several hours daily.
By some coincidence, I ended up settling in Claremont, as did Mr. and Mrs. Murie. My brother Alan and I had several lunches with Tom in his later years. I hope those visits meant as much to Mr. Murie as they did to us.
Mine is just one story. To measure Mr. Murie’s impact, you would have to multiply my experience by 1,000 or more. That’s a remarkable legacy. I am grateful to have had Tom Murie in my life.”