Bill Murray was a giant in the Cowichan Valley sports community. (Submitted by Ian Murray)

Bill Murray was a giant in the Cowichan Valley sports community. (Submitted by Ian Murray)

Cowichan sports community mourns loss of Bill Murray

Coach, athlete and administrator was instrumental in rugby, track and rowing

The Cowichan Rugby Football Club lost the last of its founders and the Cowichan Valley lost a giant in sports when Bill Murray died on Wednesday, May 18.

Murray was a player, captain and president for the CRFC, as well as a teacher and coach at Cowichan Secondary School and pioneer of the Cowichan Valley Athletics Club and Maple Bay Rowing Club.

Born in England in 1931, Murray moved to Canada in the late 1950s, originally to Prince George before settling in the Cowichan Valley in 1959 when he accepted a teaching position at Cowichan Secondary.

After initially playing rugby for Oak Bay Wanderers, who he captained to a provincial title, Murray helped found the CRFC in 1962 along with Derek Hyde-Lay, Peter Clarke, Peter Owen and Dave Mackenzie. He also started the rugby program at Cow High.

“Many of our past players, board members and presidents were introduced to the game at the high school by Coach Murray,” Annie McGeachy wrote in a post on the CRFC Facebook page.

In addition to helping found the rugby club, Murray and Hyde-Lay formed the CV Athletics Club that morphed into the present day CVACs. After his rugby career, Murray served as head coach of the Maple Bay Rowing Club for more than 20 years. He still attended rugby matches at the Herd Road pitch well into his 80s.

Murray was involved in many aspects of the community outside of sports, including local politics. His wife, Anne, was mayor of North Cowichan from 1996 to 1999 and served two terms as councillor.

“They were always involved in, well, you name it,” Bill and Anne’s son, Ian, said with a laugh.

Bill Murray is survived by his wife Anne — the couple were together for 70 years — as well as their children Rob, Ian, David, Graham and Rachel, and their families.

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