Emma Jean McNaughton Murray
Emma Jean McNaughton Murray passed away on August 5, 2023, at the age of 83 or as she would say “29 and holding.” Jean was born in Vernal, Utah on January 24, 1940, to James Taft and Evylen Massey McNaughton and had three brothers. She described herself as being a tom boy growing up and we don’t doubt for a second that she held her own with all the boys.
She would tell us stories of not being allowed to use a saddle on their horse (her father was worried they’d fall and get hung up in the stirrups) so she would constantly be falling off as they galloped around bareback. After falling, she would always get right back on and not only was that a lesson that she taught to all her kids and grandkids, but it also showed the determination and strength she carried throughout her life.
Jean graduated from Uintah High School in 1958 and attended BYU for one year. The next year, while working as a waitress she met, as she would tell it, “The most handsome, blue-eyed man I’d ever seen walked in and I knew I was going to marry him.” She was right and on December 30, 1959, she married Blaine Murray, and they were later sealed in the Salt Lake City Temple in 1965.
After living the first few years in Jensen and Vernal, they moved to Rangely, Colorado where they would make their home for over 60 years. They welcomed six children into their family. They often said that raising their family and spending time together brought them great joy. She is survived by her brother, Jim (Wendy) McNaughton and her children, Jerilyn Murray, Brenda (John) Pennell, Sandi (Scott) Beddes, Brett (Vennesa) Murray, and Darleen (Ray) Meyerhoffer. She has 17 grandchildren and 6 great grandchildren. She is preceded in death by her loving husband, parents, brother Ralph Olson, infant brother Terry, infant son, Scott, and granddaughter, Jennifer.
Throughout her life, she was an active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Her testimony of Jesus Christ was unwavering. She held numerous callings and was a dedicated temple worker for 23 years. She was also a temple organist for many years. She loved to learn and retained it all – a quality which she would apply in preparing to teach her weekly Sunday School lessons. The introduction to her lesson, possibly to the slight chagrin of her class, was usually bragging about her grandkids. Her pride in her children and grandchildren was unmatched and she filled her fridge and lined walls with pictures and newspaper articles from their various events.
She was an avid sports fan, knew enough that she could have easily coached her own football or basketball team. No one cheered louder than she did and the whole crowd (and coaches and refs – who may have gotten some pointers!) always knew when she was at the game. She was also talented at growing flowers, sewing (making countless dresses for her granddaughters) and at playing both the piano and organ (she was ward organist for almost 60 years). She passed these skills onto her family although none of us were ever as good as she was. Despite being a tomboy as a child, she always looked beautiful and liked to have her makeup/hair done along with a little bling (jewelry).
Her grandkids lovingly called her “Amma” or “The Law” (which she would tell them whenever they were misbehaving). She never missed an important family event and drove hours to attend concerts, recitals, ballgames, birthdays, and graduations. When her health declined, she kept up with family through Instagram and impressed everyone with how well she could use it (she would comment almost instantly on all our posts and was the queen of Emojis).
Our Amma was sharper than anyone through the very end and while her body slowed down, her mind and determination never did. After being hospitalized in Glenwood Springs, she was surrounded by family visiting, so many that they had extra chairs squished in every extra space in her hospital room. When she knew it was close to the end, she said she was looking forward to being reunited with Blaine, the love of her life, and her first baby, Scott, who was born very premature. While she will be so very missed, we find comfort in knowing that she is with them now.
The theme of the town of Glenwood Springs is “Find your wings in Glenwood Springs.” We know that she really did find her wings and will now be an angel to us all. Mom (Amma), it is now our turn, and we have the privilege of saying “Love you more!”
Funeral services will be held Saturday, the 12th of August at 11:00 am at the Rangely Ward Chapel (125 Eagle Crest Drive, Rangely, CO). Visitation for family will be Saturday morning from 10:00 am – 10:45 am at the church. Interment will be in the Jensen, Utah Cemetery next to her beloved husband. A luncheon will follow at the Jensen Ward Chapel. Services are under the direction of the Blackburn Vernal Mortuary.