PULLMAN, Wash. — A memorial service for Janet H. Brewster Murrow, widow of Edward R. Murrow, one of Washington State University’s most distinguished graduates, is scheduled for 11 a.m. Jan. 4 at St. Andrews Episcopal Church in Wellesley, Mass. She passed away Dec. 18.
Alexis Tan, director of the Murrow School of Communications at WSU, recently received word of Mrs. Murrow’s death from her son, Casey Murrow, of Putney, Vt. She died peacefully in Needham, Mass., after a long struggle with Parkinson’s Disease and related problems, he reported.
In his letter, Casey Murrow wrote: “Mom, as you know, was proud of the work of the Murrow Center and kept up with what all of you were doing as long as she could.”
Tan said, “We are saddened by her death and continue to be deeply honored that she and Casey Murrow gave approval for naming our school of communication after Edward R. Murrow.”
The building known as the Murrow Communications Center on the Pullman campus was dedicated in his honor in 1973. In 1990, the Edward R. Murrow School of Communication was created from the former Department of Communications.
Mrs. Murrow visited WSU several times for dedications and to attend the Murrow Symposium on broadcasting and news issues, an annual event named for her husband. When the U.S. Postal Service issued a stamp in 1994 recognizing the famous radio and television personality, Mrs. Murrow recommended the official stamp release be done in Pullman, home of Murrow’s alma mater.
On Jan. 21, 1994, an enlarged version of a 29-cent U.S. postage stamp bearing a 1953 photograph of Edward R. Murrow, was unveiled in ceremonies at the Murrow center. Mrs. Murrow, was unable to attend the ceremony, but wrote “Ed certainly had a great admiration for his alma mater, WSU, and I am thrilled that there is to be a stamp in honor of him.”
The Murrow stamp was the first to honor a U.S. broadcast journalist.
The North Carolina native moved to Washington with his family at age 5 and was raised in Blanchard, a logging town in Skagit County. He earned a degree in speech at Washington State College in 1930, where he was a member of Kappa Sigma Fraternity, junior class president and student body president as a senior.
Murrow first gained fame for his World War II radio broadcasts that provided Americans with eyewitness accounts of Hitler’s bombing in London. In a telephone interview a number of years ago, Mrs. Murrow recalled her husband’s devotion to Ida Lou Anderson, his college speech professor.
“She wrote him every week to critique his broadcast,” Mrs. Murrow said with a laugh. “In fact, she’s the one who suggested his trademark sign-on: ‘This … is London.'”
Edward R. Murrow went on to a 25-year career with CBS radio and Television, and what many consider the first television news personality in America. His “See It Now” and “Person to Person” television programs made him a household name. Murrow also is credited with establishing early standards for television news. Later he was appointed director of the U.S. Information Agency by President John F. Kennedy.
WSU honored Murrow a number of times, starting with an honorary doctor of laws degree in 1946. In 1961, he was among the first three WSU graduates to be named a Regents’ Distinguished Alumnus, the highest award the university bestows on one of its graduates. In 1987, the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges named Murrow WSU’s Centennial Alumnus.
The Murrows were married in 1934. He died of cancer in 1965 at age 57.