A Golf Tournament has been organized to honour the memory of a local Lions Club member who has left an amazing legacy.
Bruce Murray was a popular figure, in the Grand Bend and St. Marys communities. In fact, as a Lions Club member, he was successful in launching remarkable major projects. “He had done so much for Lionism and made a difference in so many lives, that we wanted a way to ensure he was remembered,” says Lion Club member and Past President Jody Cherwonak of the West Coast Lions Club in Grand Bend.
In the 1980s, Murray initiated and helped found the Lions Foundation of Canada, an organization based in Oakville that started its first programme in 1985 with Canine Vision, known then as “seeing-eye” dogs.
Since then, the foundation has grown to include Hearing, Service, Seizure Response, Autism Assistance, Diabetic Alert and Support Dogs. These dogs are provided free to eligible Canadians from coast to coast despite costing $25,000 to train and place them. The organization relies on donations from Lions Clubs, individuals and corporations and receives no government funding.
“Bruce was travelling in the United States to a Lion function, and saw what they were doing there with dog training,” says Lion member Sherman Roth, “He was told it is really difficult to start up a dog training facility, but that was just the challenge he needed. He built up interest, and got the program off the ground soon after that.”
Murray also founded Canada’s first International Youth Camp, where students from around the world come together each summer, and served as a director for six years. Most recently, Bruce had taken on the challenge of bringing Lions Quest back to its fully operational status. Lions Quest helps today’s youth deal with life situations such as self-esteem, bullying, and social media.
Murray, born in 1933, was an active Lion for over 50 years, first in St. Marys and then with West Coast Lions of Grand Bend. As a Lion, he had volunteered his time internationally, building Canada’s reputation around the world. He served as International Director from 1981 – 1983 as well as holding numerous positions within the association, including Club President, Zone Chair and District Governor.
“Bruce could always be counted on to take these roles. When I was a new Lion member, I was proud to be mentored by Past International Director Bruce. In my eyes, he was a giant in Lionism,” says Rosalind MacDonald, also a member of the West Coast Lions Club.
Margaret Steadman, also a Lion member and personal friend of Murray’s said he will be sorely missed.
“He left these great legacies – the guide dogs and the youth activities – that we want to make sure he is remembered.”
With Murray’s remarkable works in mind, the West Coast Lions will host the First Annual Bruce Murray Memorial Golf Tournament on Friday, September 21 at Oakwood Resort in Grand Bend. It will be a scramble format with a shotgun start at 11 a.m. The price for 18 holes with a cart and including dinner is $75. For those who prefer just dinner, it is $30, served at 5 p.m.
“There will be an abundance special prizes and an auction, with items donated by various community-minded businesses which have been happy to support the tournament,” says organizer and Lion member Ron Breen. In addition, there is a putting contest, sponsored by Smackwater Jacks Restaurant and Tours. To register, please call Roz at (519) 238-8211 or Mary at (519) 238-6760.
Several Lions members noted that he was an excellent speaker, and could have the audience rolling in the aisles with his jokes and stories. “He is missed,” added Lion member Jenny Roth, “But he will be fondly remembered on September 21st.”
Art Parkes, president of the West Coast Lions, said that everyone, whether they personally knew Bruce or not, is encouraged to sign up for this tournament. The proceeds of the tournament will be going to one of Murray’s interests and a very good cause, Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides, the guide dog training facility in Oakville.