By Jordan Gerrans
When friends reflect on the life of respected veterinarian John Murray, they speak about his kind nature, generous attitude in regards to sharing his deep knowledge as well as his love for animals.
Murray passed away earlier this week at age 85.
He wore an abundance of hats during his more than 50 years in the greyhound industry: Australian Greyhound Vets Association president, committee member of the Brisbane Greyhound Racing Club as well as dabbling in training and breeding dogs, as well.
Murray was honoured as a life member of the club in Brisbane, on top of being inducted into the Hall of Fame of the Australian Greyhound Racing Association.
Helen Sant, the partner of Burpengary-based trainer Cliff Houston, was close with Murray in his last few years and detailed the type of person he was.
“He would never say anything negative about people,” Sant said.
“He was the kindest person and would only say kind things about others.
“He would never criticize people, no matter who it was, and we can all learn from that.
“He was an amazing human being.
“Other vets would go and ask him questions and he was just so generous with his knowledge.”
Sant made special mention of a group of people who would visit Murray weekly in the aged care facility he was living at across his final months.
“Many of them knew him through greyhounds, but some knew him from other parts of his life,” Sant said.
“They were really good people.”
His journey in greyhounds began back in 1965 in Melbourne when he started as an assistant to a veterinarian, which included working with dogs.
Murray’s work included race dogs from Olympic Park and Sandown.
After travelling to Grafton to race dogs himself around 1981, he would grow to like Brisbane and would eventually relocate to the Sunshine State.
Murray had a close association with the Capalaba Greyhound Racing Club, with races named after him on a fortnightly, if not weekly basis, over the last year before he passed away.
Capalaba treasurer Erin Cameron explained how the naming of races came about, highlighting his generosity, as well as his eagerness to fly under the radar and not seek attention.
“Over the years I would have all these random trainers come up to me and just hand me $20 to put in the till for race names,” Cameron said.
“He would always contribute money but he would not want races named after him.
“But, I would always name races after him anyway.
“It used to make him laugh, it was just a bit cheeky and he loved it.
“He did that for ages and I continued to name races after him, just to purely annoy him (laughs).”
By his side for around 40 years was partner Bev Behm.
Behm passed away around a decade ago but as Sant said, she was along for the ride with the greyhounds, as well.
“They were such an amazing team,” Sant said.
“John would always say that he learnt in his relationship with Beverley that the best thing he could ever say is “yes, dear”.
“He said that made life a lot easier.”
Behm also contributed to the committee when the dog club was based at the Gabba, eventually working her way up to the position of vice-president.
Following Behm’s passing, Sant, among others, would help maintain Murray’s property and his gardens.
Friends and colleagues were more than happy to support Murray, as that was what he always did for them.
“He would help anyone, anywhere, he would do anything for you,” Cameron said.
“He would share advice and was the nicest man on the planet.
“He had a massive influence on racing and was a beautiful person.
“He would share advice with anyone.”
One of the mainstays of the dog code in the Sunshine State, Luke Gatehouse, was aided in his introduction to the sport by Murray.
Gatehouse knew Murray and Behm when he worked in another industry, living not far away from the couple.
They helped him apply for a job at the Brisbane Greyhound Racing Club over two decades ago and he has remained since.
Gatehouse and Murray grew closer when he worked in the code on a full-time basis, describing him as a “good friend and advisor”.
“He was one of those people that was just respected everywhere he went,” Gatehouse said.
“He was such a good person.
“In racing it is a very competitive sport but he was a person that you would never hear anyone say a bad word about.”
As well as working with dogs throughout his life, Murray also loved cats.
In 2007, the Federal Government presented Murray with an Order of Australia Medal (OAM) in recognition of his service to the greyhound industry as a vet and through industry organizations.
RQ extends its condolences to the Murray family.