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In Memoriam: Donald M. Murtha (Jan. 17, 1937 – March 1, 2022)

Don Murtha passed away at the age of 85 on March 1, 2022. He was born in Queens, New York to John Charles and Selma Alberta Murtha and lived in his younger years in Hempstead, New York.

He graduated from the University of Georgia with a degree in journalism. Don was a reporter in the old style of Walter Cronkite. At the time of John F. Kennedy’s death, on which he reported, he worked for The Savannah Evening Press in Savannah, Georgia. Don also reported on the civil rights movement of the time. 

Going West was his life’s dream. He reported for The Sacramento Bee out of the Placerville, California office for several years. He finally made it to Oregon, where he became editor of The Woodburn Independent and then editor of The Silverton Appeal, at that time owned by Joe Davis.

Don left the news industry for a while, but returned to his first love, reporting, by becoming a contributor to Our Town, from which he retired.

Don was a person who thought of other people first. His infectious smile was always present; he had a great sense of humor, also known as the “Murtha humor.”

He had suffered with Pulmonary Fibrosis beginning in 2009 for which there is no cure. Barely able to breath, he was made comfortable by the care of Willamette Valley Hospice. 

He his survived by his wife of 61 years, Gisela; sons, Poul (Ramona) and Bob (Susan); three grandchildren and one great grandchild; brother, John Murtha and sister, Nancy Sexton. His sister, Carolyn Feller, preceded him in death.

The funeral service was held on March 24 at St. Mary Church in Mount Angel. 

The family was assisted by Unger Funeral Chapel.   

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