Eugene J. Murray, the longest-serving mayor in Rockville Centre history, died Tuesday at his home.
He was first elected to a four-year term as mayor in 1987 and ran unopposed until 2007, a record 20-year stretch. When he left office, the village hall was named in his honor.
Murray died of natural causes, his family said. He was 93.
“He led Rockville Centre for 20 years, and he was and continues to be the greatest man this village has ever seen,” said Francis X. Murray, Eugene’s son and the current Rockville Centre mayor. “He did it with love and compassion with everyone he ran into.”
Eugene Murray administered the oath of office to his son in 2011. “He taught all of his eight children a great work ethic,” his son said.
Murray served in World War II and saw combat with the 71st Infantry Division in France and Germany. When he left the army in 1946, he founded the Murray Floor Waxing Service. The business, which he ran for four decades, remains in the family.
He married Mary Lou Bernhardi of East Rockaway on Dec. 27, 1947, and they had eight children. He built up his business, joined the village's volunteer fire department and became active in village life.
Before serving as mayor, Murray was on the village’s board of trustees for three years. An active member of the fire department for more than 72 years, he served as chief from 1977 to 1983. The village Chamber of Commerce gave him its first “Businessman of the Year” award.
As mayor, Murray established the RVC Community Fund for residents and charities. He served as president of the New York Conference of Mayors in 2003 and 2004 and was a past president of the Nassau County Village Officials Association.
Among the honors for his public service were being named “Man of the Year” in 1993 by Molloy College, which awarded him an honorary law doctorate in 1994, and “Citizen of the Year” in 1997 by the RVC Kiwanis Club. Other organizations that recognized him included the Nassau County Boy Scouts Council, the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith and Guiding Light Lodge of the Masonic Order.
Born Aug. 10, 1925, in Mercy Medical Center in Rockville Centre, Murray grew up in the village and never left except to go to war, his son said. He was one of 13 children and the son of the village’s longtime postmaster. Murray graduated from St. Agnes High School and was a eucharistic minister and a lector.
“He was a man of great faith,” Francis Murray said. “He went to Mass every day. He had wonderful ethics.”
His wife died in 2013 after 66 years of marriage. Murray is also predeceased by his children Teresa and Larry Murray.
In addition to Francis Murray, Murray is survived by five other children, Mary Lou Marquardt of Rockville Centre, Jean Joyce of Rockville Centre, Rosemary Murray of Oceanside, Anne Hayden of Inwood and Thomas Murray of Massapequa; as well as his 26 grandchildren and 35 great-grandchildren.
Services will be held Thursday from 7 to 9 p.m. and Friday from 4 to 8 p.m. at the St. Agnes Parish Center. A funeral Mass is set for Saturday at 9:30 a.m. at St. Agnes Cathedral.