It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Kenneth Murray, a revered community leader and long-time member of HRI’s Board of Directors.
As a member of the HRI Board, Ken provided vital oversight to HRI as our organization progressed from a small start-up to a nationally focused entity. He recognized early on the importance of collaboration with other organizations, and was instrumental in creating the spirit of co-operation to enhance collective impact that guides HRI’s strategic approach to this day.
“We are deeply saddened by the loss of a true gentleman and extend our condolences to Ken’s wife, Marilyn, and his family,” says Ron Schlegel, Chair of the HRI Board.
“I’ve known Ken for over 30 years and have been inspired by his deep and unwavering commitment to using research and education to promote the best possible quality of life for people who are aging or affected by mental illness and addiction.”
Ken’s professional legacy is remarkable. By one colorful account of his life, he began by nailing wooden egg cartons together at J.M. Schneider Inc. in Kitchener, Ontario. His work ethic and business savvy would earn him many promotions over the years; in 1969, he was appointed President and CEO of the company. During his 17-year term as President and CEO, he saw Schneider’s sales grow from $70 million to $650 million.
During his time at Schneider’s, Ken recognized the importance of mental health and well-being among his employees and their families. He took every opportunity to create employment conditions conducive to mental health and would go on to become a notable philanthropist, committed to advancing mental health initiatives.
Perhaps the project closest to Ken’s heart was the Murray Alzheimer Research and Education Project (MAREP). His first wife, Helen, lived her last years with Alzheimer’s disease. Learning first-hand just how devastating this illness could be, Ken assembled a team and created MAREP. The organization integrates research and education to improve dementia care practices and quality of life for people diagnosed with age-related cognitive impairments.
In 2001, Ken was appointed a member of the Order of Canada for his generous contributions to community organizations, including the Universities of Waterloo and Guelph, the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony, and the Kitchener-Waterloo Community Foundation. He was also the recipient of a Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal for his community service.
Ken used his corporate leadership, his philanthropy and his wisdom to make a profound difference to a great many people in his lifetime. His legacy is enormous and truly inspiring.
Thank you, Ken, for all you’ve done to advance HRI’s mission and beyond that, to do so much in so many ways to improve the lives of Canadians.