Education Building, Ivy Creek Natural Area, 1780 Earlysville Rd, Charlottesville VA 22903
Cards may be sent to Jim at: 1601 Bentivar Farm Rd., Charlottesville, VA 22901
Memorial contributions may be sent to:
The Virginia Wilderness Committee
P.O. Box 1235, Lexington, VA 24450
In the early years when Bess and Jim’s three children were young, the whole family would scout wild areas and show them to Senators, Congressmen, and other decision-makers. On a trip with Rep. Jim Olin to old growth in one of our proposals, we climbed through rough terrain to find a giant hemlock. When we sat down to rest, Bess pulled out a quiche she had made that morning, using eggs from her own chickens. On another scouting hike through our proposed Little River Wilderness, Bess and Tiki jumped in Hearthstone Lake for a swim in mid-October. After the children grew up, the Murrays took dogs along on our scouting trips. Both Murrays were exceptional naturalists and could identify most everything we would see, making for a rich learning experience for the rest of us.
Bess actively recruited new members for the VWC, always willing to approach strangers with brochures in hand. Once she recruited a passerby who stopped to help them when their car broke down. Her enthusiasm for Wilderness was so contagious that they didn’t stand a chance.
Besides working for Wilderness Bess helped found Ivy Creek Foundation and served as Coordinator. She wrote for Virginia Wildlife for 10 years and broadcast the weekly “Natural History Note” on WTJU radio for 15 years. In her spare time, she raised cattle and chickens, mended fence, grew a garden, danced with Jim, travelled extensively, and much more. Bess was an extraordinary woman. We will miss her, and we will remember her.
- Lynn Cameron
The first time I met Bess was up on the top of Spy Rock where the Murrays were hosting a picnic gathering in honor of Peter Kirby's 1998 AT thru hike promoting Wilderness. Bess was so welcoming to me, sharing food, enthusiasm, and enveloping me into the fold of folks who work for and require Wilderness in Virginia. Bess never missed an opportunity to educate any breathing prospect about Virginia Wilderness, and she graciously accepted pennies, and up, for the cause. I was especially enthralled by Bess's incisive comments. She went straight to the point. Though I only knew Bess through her Wilderness advocacy, I appreciate her huge contribution to educating Virginians about their natural heritage, and her significant role in helping preserve some of our most special places for its enjoyment. – Laura Neale
I met Bess and Jim Murray in the mid-1980s when I came to their old farmhouse for a meeting on Wilderness. The large stuffed black bear in their kitchen was a major attraction, but it was immediately clear that the team of Bess and Jim was an even more powerful embodiment of love and need for Wilderness. In our many meetings over the years, Bess was always demure and mostly let Jim take the lead. But when she spoke, Bess had the clear vision, the understanding of human nature, the profound love of wild nature and the absolute commitment to protecting it, that made her a trailblazer in working for Wilderness. Her guidance will be sorely missed, but the inspiration of her tireless work lives on. – Chris Bolgiano
Bess was a key partner with Jim to visit potential Wilderness and to advocate for protection with local leaders and members of Congress. – Lindsay West
Bess Murray is one of those unique individuals who will be forever remembered fondly by all who knew her. She was one of the first conservationists I met when I began working for The Nature Conservancy. Our actual connection was the Ivy Creek Natural Area, where Bess was a volunteer extraordinaire. We remained connected through our work with the VWC. She exuded humor, intelligence, grace, kindness, and a deep dedication to our natural world. Rest in peace, dear Bess. – Faye Cooper
Linda and I are saddened to learn that Bess Murray has passed on. We have known each other for many years and have fought the good battles together to keep our environment intact. She and Jim were the real stalwarts and her dedication, persistence, and competence were unsurpassed. She will be deeply missed by us all.
- Lincoln Brower and Linda Fink
Bess was a teacher and an encourager, and she helped me to be bold and speak truth to those in positions of power. She was also the provider of many road trip meals and snacks and lovely home grown dinners at Bentivar. She, with her lovely accent, was the backbone and the conscience of the Virginia wilderness movement. She and Jim together were a force to be reckoned with. – David Carr