TRURO – A former Truro police chief is being remembered today as a gentleman, dedicated family man and well-respected officer.
Alonzo “Lonnie” Murray passed away at the age of 80 early Saturday morning.
Murray served with the Truro Police Service for 40 years, from 1956 to 1996, and was chief for 22 years until he retired.
“Lonnie was on the police force when I joined in 1962,” said former colleague Wyman Mingo of Truro. “He was a sergeant at the time. It (the service) was very small then and not as well equipped.”
Mingo said Murray had a “mild” personality and an open mind.
“He was a chief and sergeant that stood by his men,” said Mingo. “I looked up to him as a chief and an officer.
“The good things he did here as a police officer was certainly noticeable by all his men and the public.”
Murray was a member of St. James Presbyterian Church, past-president of the Nova Scotia Chiefs of Police Association, Atlantic Chiefs of Police, Truro Kiwanis Club, Big Bothers Big Sisters, Cobequid Neighbourhood Work Activity program, Fundy Trail Snowmobile and Recreation Club, chairman of the board of managers at St. James Presbyterian Church and Hart Lake Cottage Owners Association.
Truro resident and former Truro police chief Ken MacLean, served as deputy chief from 1988 to 1996, stepping into the chief’s position following Murray’s retirement.
“He’s the best boss I ever had,” said MacLean. “He had a great passion for the community and his members. He wanted the best for them.”
MacLean described him as a very strong, humble leader and said Murray led the service through “a time of revolution of policing.”
He served during a time when call boxes were the norm, then radios and cell phones. Murray is credited for securing bulletproof vests, dress uniforms and other safety equipment for his members.
“He was the author of all that,” said MacLean. “Anything to do with safety and training, he was proactive in those fields.”
Murray was born in Middleboro, Cumberland County in 1933 and moved to Truro as a teenager.
He was an avid outdoorsman who loved to hunt, fish and snowmobile.
“He loved his cottage on Hart Lake,” said Aubrey Ryan, Murray’s son-in-law, of Tatamagouche. Ryan described Murray as a “great family man” who was dedicated to his work but always made time for others.
“He had an outgoing personality and I think he accepted people as they are,” said Ryan.
Valerie Munroe, Murray’s niece and administrative assistant for the Truro Police Service, said he was one of three police chiefs she has worked with and holds many cherished memories of him.
“As an uncle, I always remember his laugh and his smile, he always had stories to tell,”
said Munroe. “As a chief and police officer, he was a distinguished officer.”
She said he was fair and willing to listen.
“He didn’t have to raise his voice to be respected or heard,” said Munroe. “He was a great man and he will be missed.”
Truro Mayor Bill Mills said he worked with Murray during his first term with Truro Town Council and served with him on the police commission. The two shared many conversations at the time about a need for a new police station, which came to fruition 17 years ago.
“He was a clear definition of what a gentleman was,” said Mills. He said Murray’s gentle, kind nature always reminded him of the police officers in Norman Rockwell paintings.
Murray was a “community police officer,” long before it became a buzzword in policing, said the mayor.
“On behalf of the town, council and citizens our thoughts and prayers are with his family,” said Mills. “He was a great officer and we owe him a great debt.”
Murray is survived by his wife Anne Clair, four children, six grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren, as well as three sisters, a brother and several nieces and nephews.
Funeral arrangements are entrusted to Mattatall Varner Funeral Home in Truro. Time and date had not been announced as of noon Saturday.