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Officer William H. Murie | Arizona Department of Public Safety, Arizona Arizona Department of Public Safety, Arizona


William H. Murie

Arizona Department of Public Safety, Arizona

End of Watch: Wednesday, November 19, 1980

Bio & Incident Details

Age: 31

Tour: 8 years

Badge # 721

Cause: Struck by vehicle

Incident Date: 11/16/1980

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Officer William Murie succumbed to injuries received three days earlier when he was struck by a vehicle. He was assisting at the scene of an accident on I-17 near Phoenix.

Officer Murie was survived by his wife and three year-old twin daughters.

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Most Recent Reflection

A year or so ago I was with Bill's widow Gwenn-now my wife of 30 years--at the AZ DPS and the statewide memorial services. Governor Brewer spoke at both, and the thanks I conveyed to her say much of what I feel almost every day about Bill's loss.

The Honorable Janice K. Brewer
Arizona Governor
Executive Tower
1700 West Washington Street
Phoenix, AZ 85007

Dear Governor Brewer:

Several times our paths have converged in the course of my work as Chief Solicitor at the Alliance Defense Fund. In that professional capacity, I have greatly appreciated the work you do for our state.

But on Monday, May 7, our paths converged for a different, personal reason. Twice that day you stood at a podium; twice I sat in an audience, with my wife Gwenn beside me. Once in the soft balm of the spring morning at DPS headquarters; once in the warm spring evening at Wesley Bolin Park; she and I again relived the loss her first husband, DPS officer Bill Murie, who died on November 19, 1980 of injuries received in the line of duty. Bill died as he lived—helping people at an accident scene.

I knew Bill but slightly—a 6’ 7” highway patrolman who went to my small Flagstaff church, I couldn’t totally ignore him. But I paid no heed to his wife, being then-single and much involved in school and work. The first time I remember seeing her was at Bill’s graveside service on a wan November day: silhouetted against a dark wood coffin; bracketed on either side by impossibly small, twin daughters.

My shallow thought at that moment was that I need go no further into the universe of her tragedy—she lost her dad the same day to unrelated medical causes, and within two weeks lost the third child she carried. I’d done my Christian duty, shown up at the service, and along with some personal grieving, that was that.

But as I suspect you would understand, God does not respect man’s shallow thoughts. Instead, He watched three years later as Gwenn and I pledged our lives to one another, until death do us part.

Happily, the ensuing decades have seen that pledge fulfilled. And through those years I learned some of just how deeply the loss of a husband and daddy cuts. Time, as Attorney General Horne noted in the evening, may soften the blows with each passing year. But time can also be transparent to pain; loss that is decades old can instantly become grief renewed that slices through every sinew of the soul.

The point of this is to say, with some context and clarity, that the time that you so generously devote each year to honoring fallen officers is not only deeply appreciated, but that you serve as one of the healing agents for these blessed, bereaved survivors.

Listening to your measured words of compassion; watching you unhurriedly share your concern by word and touch with each cluster of newly wounded families was and is a deep blessing to us.

Lending the honor and respect of the office you hold to the efforts of so many officers, thus sustaining the memory of the lost is a material and profound touch that, I assure you, helps us all honor those who gave the last, full measure of devotion.

In short, “thank you” for your unstinting and active support for the survivors. If you ever wonder whether your time was worth it…

It was.

With kind regards,

Gary S. McCaleb

Gary McCaleb
September 25, 2013


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