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C. Emerson Murry dies at 86

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Charles “C.” Emerson Murry, a former adjutant general and Dunseith native, died at age 86  on Sunday.

Murry got his start in the military during World War II as a then-Army sergeant and fought in the Battle of the Bulge. 

After the war he returned to school, married his wife Donna and had five children. He graduated from the University of North Dakota in business administration and with a law degree in 1950.

He practiced law for one year in Rugby, before serving as a  director of the newly created North Dakota Legislative Council from 1951 to 1975.

“He pretty much established the Legislative Council and wrote a lot of the Century Code we have today,” said Adjutant Gen. David Sprynczynatyk.

He joined the North Dakota National Guard in 1953, but did not become its lead general until 1975, appointed by then-Gov. Art Link.

Guard member and Murry’s son-in-law, Curtis Stanley, said Murry stressed recruitment when he took over shortly after the Vietnam War.

“Strength was a big issue at that time for all the military, especially volunteer forces like the Guard and the Reserve,” Stanley said. “He pushed to make sure we were achieving greater than 100 percent strength for the North Dakota National Guard.”

“He did a lot to make sure the Guard was at strength and that it met its recruitment goals,” said Murry’s successor, former Adjutant Gen. Alex McDonald.

Sprynczynatyk said in addition to his work in recruitment and training, he pushed for a lot of infrastructure development, particularly at Camp Grafton.

“He always made sure we had what we needed to be a ready and prepared National Guard,” Sprynczynatyk said.

Murry served as adjutant general through 1984, though concerns over the federal portion of his salary caused then-Gov. Allen Olson to push for his resignation, saying he wanted him to work on the Garrison Diversion Project.

The allegations surrounding Murry turned out to be false and he was later cleared of any wrongdoing.

“I don’t feel bitter, and I don’t feel vindictive,” Murry said in a 1984 Tribune article of the incident. “But I don’t fully understand the vindictiveness of attempting to destroy another person. It took two audits, an attorney general’s opinion as well as a review to show that these charges were spurious.”

Murry left the adjutant general position shortly thereafter and served as manager of the Garrison Diversion Project from 1985 to 1993. 

In 1993 he retired as a major general after 42 years of public service.

Stanley described him in his personal life as the ultimate patriarch.

“You got good advice even if you didn’t want it,” Stanley said. “Nobody wanted to disappoint him. He set high standards for everyone including himself.”

Last year he was one of many WWII veterans to take part in the honor flight to Washington, D.C.

“He was so appreciative of that and the people that organized it,” said William Prokopyk with the National Guard.

He is survived by his wife, five children, and 13 grandchildren.

Funeral services will be held  at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday at the Trinity Lutheran Church. Internment will be at 2 p.m. at the North Dakota Veterans Cemetery.

(Reach reporter Rebecca Beitsch at 250-8255 or 223-8482 or


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