David A. McMurray Inducted 2000 - Teacher
The individual who nominated David McMurray for the WHS Hall of Fame describes him as a teacher who believed that each child could learn and would learn. "He incorporated many teaching techniques for many learning styles. He did all of this with a sense of caring and a sense of humor. I believe David McMurray exemplifies an outstanding educator. Because of the number of lives he has influenced and the number of staff members he has encouraged, I truly believe that David should be inducted into the WHS Hall of Fame." Read on, and I'm sure you’ll agree.
Coincidentally, although Dave never attended WHS, he was born while his father, David B. McMurray, was teaching and coaching at Woodward. "So I guess I have always been a Polar Bear at heart. As a child, my first memories of driving with my father to Woodward were seeing all the small grocery stores that had many live ducks in their backyards so the grocers could make 'Czarnina'-a Polish soup made from duck's blood."
Dave's education was attained over the years, at a variety of schools, during different stages of his life. He attended McKinley Grade School and DeVilbiss High School. He studied history and biological science at Ohio University and obtained his Bachelor of Science Education degree in 1960. Dave later obtained a Master of Arts in History from the University of Toledo and also did extensive postgraduate work. Dave was a Jennings scholar and attended The University of California at Berkeley to study the constitution under a grant from the National Humanities Institute.
Dave was hired by the Toledo Public Schools in 1960 and was assigned to Woodward. He started out teaching Orientation and Drivers' Education. "I was most fortunate because, as the Drivers' Education teacher, I became acquainted with most of the students by the time they graduated. I stayed in Drivers' Education, teaching both in the classroom and the car for 31 years."
At WHS, Dave eventually taught all the courses included under the social studies banner: World History, American History, Economics, Geography, Consumer Economics, Sociology, Government and Human Relations. "My favorite classes were Government and Human Relations. I think I learned and benefited more than my students did in the Human Relations classes. I thank the students very much for all that they gave me."
Dave developed an especially close relationship with Jim Bounds, a fellow member of the History Department. "We had a number of mock political conventions, where we brought in many area political candidates, who spent time with the students. Jim and I had a great time, and I always hoped that the students not only shared in our fun but also shared in the educational experience."
During his first year at Woodward, Dave became the advisor to the Aquatatis Literary Society. They planned dinner dances and social events. "However, I don't recall very much of the literary end. In this endeavor, I gained a good and lifelong friend in Richard Hoffman."
For many years, Dave was the Quiz Bowl Advisor. "Our point record was always good, and it was a way that I was able to know some of the brightest and quickest students at Woodward. It always made me proud to see how well our students scored in relation to the other schools in the area. I'll always remember John Ray challenging my students with questions after they left my history class. This questioning led to my own 'Friday Quiz Bowl' in my history classroom, which consisted of trivial pursuit of history knowledge."
Dave was also involved with the tech prep class during his last few years at Woodward. This was a new program that grouped a number of students together with four teachers. These students rotated among the instructors, enabling the teachers to have a greater awareness of the students' needs. Because of this experience, the students were more able to achieve and reach their goals."
Dave was always willing to give unselfishly of his time to support and supervise the students. He was a Class Advisor to a number of classes throughout the years. "First, I was advisor with Jack Bolduan, Dan Duvendack, and Fred Cieslewski. This class had the first hugely successful auction, which paid for many other events we staged. Then I joined with Richard Hoffman and advised with him the last 12 years. Richard and I tried to expand the opportunities of the students by organizing class trips and exposing them to travel to Chicago, Columbus, Toronto, and skiing in northern Michigan. These trips were financed by the students themselves selling the products of Tom-Wat. It was a great pleasure to be able to advise and see the growth in the four-year cycle of a student's education. There were so many memories ... all the floats, proms, and the yearly Booster Olympics. These all create memories I cherish. The one memory still held very vividly in my mind is that of the ugly man eating the worms that he had dug up in his backyard and sucking them in like spaghetti."
Dave calls himself "lucky" to have been "right there" when the Outdoor Education Program was started. He was sent with a number of others to Mexico and Minnesota to gain experience in outdoor education with the Outward Bound program. "I thought it would be incumbent upon me to share this opportunity with Woodward students. I was able to be part of the outdoor education program started by Jack Bolduan and Ted Szelagowski. We took students on trips canoeing on rivers in Michigan and Ohio, and we also went on a winter encampment in upper Michigan at Jack's cottage. There we were able to go cross-country skiing, to sleep in sleeping bags in the snow, to go snowshoeing, also to sing along with all the students and Dan Duvendack. Then there was the backpacking trip down the Appalachian Trail with Ray Attie, Jack Bolduan, and my wife, Kerry. I can still hear Jack and Kerry telling Ray and me that we were crazy to climb that last mountain on the last night we were there, but what a night we had.. . with all the stars and the whole valley at our feet! When we boarded the bus back, Kerry said it was one of her most memorable times, and all of the students seemed to share that feeling. “After the outdoor class ended, Dave helped form an outdoor club, which offered the students varied activities, such as cross-country skiing, bicycle camping, and backpacking.
Dave also served as Chairman of the Social Studies Department and was a faculty building representative for many years. "I enjoyed these commitments very much."
Student Council was one of the major activities that Dave advised. "We had so many activities ... dances, kings and queens, Thanksgiving and Christmas baskets, magazine drives, bulletin board contests, class elections, homecoming elections, selecting the club of the year, landscaping the courtyard, and selling flowers, balloons, pickles, popcorn, candy, and anything else that would bring in money for fundraising projects. There were also many conventions and meetings with other schools that gave the students the chance to broaden their horizons and outlooks. Fondly, I recall all the support Robert Geis gave us over the years. I truly got to know and become friends with some of the greatest people that came through WHS. "Through Student Council and the United States Department of State, WHS students had the opportunity to participate in an exchange program with students in the Dominican Republic. “I am grateful for all the encouragement and support that Marie Williamson gave to this 'once-in-a-lifetime' experience for everyone who traveled with us."
Dave also assisted Richard Hoffman with the Extrav and other theatrical events. "This gave me insight into the diverse talents that WHS students had in such abundance."
Dave married Kerry Vinson during his second year of teaching at WHS. Kerry taught at Waite High School. "Our family soon increased to four, with David being born in 1965 and Megan coming into this world two years later. Both are now married to two wonderful people. "David and Lisa live in Toledo, and David is currently a dean at Libbey High School. Megan is married to Pete Steves, they live in Columbus, and they have two young children, Lucille and Lindsay.
Dave has been active in the First Unitarian Church, serving as a teacher in the Sunday School program. He was also a trustee on the church Board of Directors and has served on the Education Committee. Dave is presently a docent at the Toledo Museum of Art. "This affords me the opportunity to continue teaching and staying in contact with young people." He also helped to establish a Woodward Staff Retiree Group, the Elder Bears.
Dave enjoys gardening, fishing, and traveling. He has spent summers at the family cottage and has traveled to Egypt, Guatemala, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, England, Scotland, Wales, The British Virgin Islands on a bare boat charter, and throughout the United States and Canada. Since retiring from Woodward in 1993, Dave has continued going to Canada in the summers. "I also continue to enjoy my family, who still give me a warm glow and a feeling of pleasure."
Dave felt "overwhelmed" when informed that he was inducted into the Woodward Hall of Fame. "I must say it has been a very fast 30 plus years-so many memories and so many good people, students, parents, faculty, administration, and staff. I thank you all. I would also like to thank my wife for the understanding and patience she has shown me over the years, since much of my time was spent with all the activities that enabled me to have this life I have led."
As one of his former students, I (the writer of this biography) had the pleasure of knowing and learning from Dave McMurray. I have vivid memories of his hearty laugh, the twinkle in his eye and his going above and beyond the call of duty in trying to teach me to drive our family's 1964 Volkswagen Beetle. I had never driven a stick shift before and was not a quick study. Poor Dave! I think we both got whiplash. But he was very patient as we lurched and jerked down the streets of West Toledo. I must also add that to this day, I firmly believe that the shriveled up coconut ever-present on Dave's classroom desk, held a deep symbolic meaning that only Dave knew and could choose to share.
Sue Hoffman nominated Dave for the Hall of Fame. She has known him both as a student and later as the wife of Dave's fellow faculty member, Richard Hoffman. She writes that "David McMurray introduced me to a whole different part of WHS and made me realize that 'the whole is truly the sum of the parts.’ Woodward was a mixture of many cultures, classes and races. Dave took all students ’under his wing' and made each feel important. His sense of humor, his dedication to his job and his giving of time beyond the school day was evident to every student with whom he came in contact. He made me realize that sometimes it is good to do the extraordinary, to take a risk and to stand up for things you believe in, even if others do not do the same."
. . . a fitting tribute capturing the essence of the man ... We welcome Dave McMurray into the Woodward High School Hall of Fame!