Editorial: Unabomber has no place on list of alumni who "excelled"

April 03, 2007
The College of Natural Resources finds it deeply regrettable that Ted Kazcynski, widely known as the Unabomber, was recently included in a California magazine list of Berkeley alumni who have "excelled in every field."

Kazcynski, who was not a Cal alumnus but an assistant math professor for two years in the late 60s, mailed 16 bombs over more than a decade, killing three and injuring 29. In 1995, one of his bombs killed Gil Murray, Forestry '75.

Note (4/6/07): California magazine's online edition now lists an Editor's note, which is much appreciated:

A regrettable inclusion: Due to an editing error in the Centennial issue, Ted Kazcynski, the infamous Unabomber, was inadvertently included in the roll of exemplary Berkeley alums. While Kazcynski was an assistant Berkeley professor for two years, he did not attend Cal. Moreover, we regret the error and sincerely apologize to anyone we offended, particularly the family, friends and colleagues of his victims.

In tribute to Murray, who was much loved by fellow alumni and the forestry community, we reprint two obituaries here:
By Cynthia Hubert, Sacramento Bee
(Published Nov. 9, 1997)

murray.jpgGilbert Brent Murray played many roles in life: Marine, athlete, boss, husband and father.

He was a star in all of them.

His calm demeanor, sharp intellect and keen sense of humor made Murray a man who commanded respect, said Donn Zea, who worked for him at the California Forestry Association in Sacramento, where Murray died April 24, 1995, after opening a mail bomb. But Murray was the opposite of intimidating. He was kind, cordial and approachable.

"Gil had a presence that was so powerful. He didn't need to use aggressiveness to make his point," Zea said.

"He had integrity, and empathy for others," said Bryan Welton, senior forester at Collins Pine in Chester, where Murray was his supervisor for eight years. "He was a fair and equitable person."

Some of his former colleagues are still so broken up about what happened to Murray that they cannot bring themselves to talk about him. "It's just too emotional," said Larry Potts, general manager of Collins Pine and former chairman of the forestry association's board of directors.

Murray's wife, Connie, spoke about her husband for the first time last week to a Bee reporter. She tearfully recalled his love of nature, and the many joyful hours they spent exploring it.

"We spent our lives outdoors," she said. "It meant the world to Gil."

A balding, soft-spoken man who enjoyed practical jokes, Murray was raised in Southern California and survived a tour in Vietnam. He held a forestry degree from the University of California, Berkeley, the same school where the man accused of his murder once taught mathematics.

Murray rose to the top of his field when he became the forestry association's president in 1994. There, he worked to find common ground with people on all sides of the complex debate surrounding forest management.

But for all his accomplishments, Murray, 47, took the greatest pride in his family, Zea and others said.

An excellent skier who consistently placed among the top competitors in an annual race among Northern California foresters, Murray reveled in the athletic prowess of his two sons, Wil and Gib, who were 18 and 16 when he died. He arranged his schedules around their football and baseball games, and their pictures decorated his office. Shortly before his death, he and his wife and sons had traveled to Hawaii and had painted their Roseville home together.

"Every Monday morning Gil would come in talking about things he had done with his family over the weekend," said Zea. "He was always smiling."

Murray's son Wil called him "the greatest man I ever met" at the funeral four days after his father's death.

"That Wil could get up and speak at that eulogy, when the pain was so raw, was a huge, huge tribute to Gil," Connie Murray said. "It showed the kind of relationship that they had."

The package that exploded in Murray's downtown office that day, less than one week after the bombing of Oklahoma City's federal building, actually was addressed to his predecessor, Bill Dennison.

"I had a dentist appointment that day and was at home," Zea recalled. "Gil and I had been talking 20 minutes earlier about Oklahoma City, how awful it was, the images of the children who had been killed."

Shortly after picking up his phone to make another call, an operator broke in. A staff member told Zea that "we'd been bombed and someone had been killed," he said.

Zea, who has since left the forestry association, said a day rarely passes that he does not think about his former boss.

"I think about Connie and the boys a lot, too," he said. "I especially think of them when I see the looks on my daughters' faces when I come home. Gil's kids don't get that anymore.

"Their father was killed by a brutal bomber, and it changed their lives forever."

Class of 1975

From California Forester, 1995

The untimely and senseless death of our colleague, Gil Murray, sent an everlasting shockwave through the forestry and wood products community. Along with deep sympathy for Connie and their two teenage boys, and concern for the safety of others in our industry, many have struggled with the "why" and "who" behind this tragedy. There is no logic, but we can be assured that authorities are still pursuing leads to this crime or terror and have faith that justice will ultimately be served.

Gil was 47 years old, graduated with a BS in Forestry from the University of California, Berkeley, and after more than 16 years with Collins Pine Company in Chester, California, he and Connie decided to move to Sacramento, where he became California Forestry Association vice president of private land resources. The major move and change in career was based considerably on a desire to benefit their family. This epitomized Gil's philosophy of life. Where many of us may recognize that we must put family ahead of work, Gil made certain that it was a reality. We should take heed in the results. Such priorities did not inhibit Gil's professional growth, but rather enhanced it. His family orientation and resulting personal sensitivity toward others were characteristics which helped him in his role as mediator and facilitator in the position of CFA president, to which he was promoted in April, 1994.

Gil had respect for the views of others, was able to pursue his own point of view through intelligent discourse and even under severe differences of opinion, maintained an even temper. Gil was a gentleman at all times and his leadership was based on persuasion and trust, rather than dogma and dictatorship.

As we remember these things about our colleague and friend, let us do so with a resolve to search our hearts and minds to determine if the world might be better if we would redirect our priorities in life.

Although we will forever grieve over the loss of Gil, particularly under the situation of terrorism and senselessness, it will be of little value to prolong the agony with questions of "why." Rather, let our prayers be for the comfort of Gil's family and all of us who have worked and played with him during the past.

And finally, in recognition of Gil's determination to make this world a better place to live, we can all subscribe to a statement made by Abraham Lincoln in 1860: "Let us have faith that right makes right, and in that faith let us to the end dare to do our duty as we understand it."

--Prepared by William N. Dennison, '59, who was Gil's predecessor as CAF president.