COPENHAGEN — The Jefferson County Sheriff's Department is investigating the death Wednesday evening of Douglas L. Murray, 83, co-owner and operator of Murcrest Farm, 31721 Route 12, which is on the border of Jefferson and Lewis counties.
Mr. Murray was working alone on the farm about 6 p.m. when he suffered injuries in an accident.
“He was sharpening the blades (on the tractor) and the bracing that held up the equipment came loose,” said grandson-in-law Ryan H. Waite. “He was pinned.”
Mr. Waite said Mr. Murray was found by a farm employee.
The tractor rested in the front yard until around 8:30 p.m., when a family friend moved it into the barn.
On Wednesday evening, more than a dozen men — friends and employees — stood behind yellow caution tape while deputies worked.
Cornell Cooperative Extension agriculture outreach educator Arthur F. Baderman was one of those watching silently. He said that he had known Mr. Murray for as long as he could remember, and that all the men standing there with him also knew Mr. Murray well.
“Very easygoing,” Mr. Baderman said. “I doubt he had an enemy in the world. For his age, he is one that is still involved in the day-to-day operations of the farm.”
Mr. Murray was of the third generation to run the farm, and urged his sons and grandchildren to work on the land.
Mr. Waite's mother, Shelly Waite, said that while she was not related to Mr. Murray by blood, she went to school with his sons and watched her own son fall in love on the farm.
Mr. Baderman lightheartedly said to her that her son chose a good family to marry into. Mr. Murray was “the ideal person you'd want to know,” Mr. Baderman said. “You'd be blessed to know him.”
As the two chatted, Mrs. Waite began to smile as she remembered many of Mr. Murray's qualities: his compassion, his pride in his family and his humble nature. Today would have been his 84th birthday.
She laughed when she said he plowed everyone's driveway in the winter. “He was everywhere,” she said.
Mr. Murray was a member and chairman of the board of trustees of Jefferson Community College; a trustee of Watertown Savings Bank; chairman of Cornell Cooperative Extension's dairy commodity committee, and the American Dairy Association's District 2 vice chairman.
He also was a member of First Presbyterian Church, 403 Washington St., Watertown.
“He was,” said Mrs. Waite, pausing to catch her breath. “He was the best.”
Among Mr. Murray's other survivors are his wife, Helen, and three sons, David L., Lynn A. and Roger E.