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Russett, Oklahoma

Tribute to My Dad Donald C. Murk

By Delores (Murk) Walker

 

Donald was born December 7, 1917 in Old Town, Mississippi. His parents were Alma (Kilgore) Murk and James Aurther Murk.  He went to school the first three years in Lone Pine. He walked two miles to school, most of the time by himself. His dad was a farmer in the early years. They moved to Milburn, Oklahoma in 1920. Donald started in the 8th grade. He learned to play the piano at an early age. He finished high school at the age of 16.

 

While he was in school he worked in his dad’s grocery store and sold Rawleigh products. He went to college at Murray State College in Tishomingo, in 1937. He also went to Oklahoma A&M in Stillwater. Later he received his masters at Southeastern Oklahoma State University in Durant, Oklahoma.

 

He lived in Milburn most of his life. Later he went to California for a while. Then later he came back and taught school for many years.  He married Eileen B. in Madill, Oklahoma and they had one daughter Delores. Later he married Estel (Smith) Murk and they had one daughter Jackie.

 

Delores went to school at Russett in grades 1, 2, & 3 then went to Milburn and later came back to Russett for one year while Donald was Superintendent.

 

Delores lives in Tishomingo with her husband Wayne. They have two children Donna Powell of Milburn, one son Danny Walker of Tishomingo.  Delores has one granddaughter and 3 grandsons.

 

Jackie lives in Cisco Texas and has two children.

 

Donald loved to ride motorcycles and show off in his car.

 

Donald died on July 8th 1965 at the age of 48.

 

In memory of my dad Donald Murk

By Delores (Murk) Walker

P.O. Box 115

Tishomingo, OK 73460


Tribute to Donald C. Murk

An Addendum 

by Dale O’Steen

 

Donald Murk grew up around Milburn, Oklahoma. His parents owned a store in Milburn. He attended Murray college and Oklahoma A & M. After graduation he worked at various jobs including a stint as a truck driver in California. After coming back from California he worked as a salesman for awhile before going into teaching. Larry Wilcox remembers him coming to their house to demonstrate an ironing board. Larry said that to demonstrate the strength of the ironing board he straddled it like sitting on a horse. He had a love for fast cars. He owned a V16 Lincoln Zephyr that was really fast.

 

I first met Mr. Murk in 1947. He had come back from California and obtained a teaching position at Russett. He lived in a house close to the Russett Y for awhile, and then built a home in Milburn. He carpooled with other teachers from Milburn to Russett for many years. I was in the 8th grade. He was a high school teacher/coach. This included a class or two with the 7th and 8th graders. I remember some things from the first day very well, because he about scared me to death. I remember him telling the rules that he expected everyone to operate by and for emphasis he said he was a boxer from his college days and didn’t think he would have any trouble enforcing the rules. He also gave a hint of his philosophy when he said something like “When I work, I work hard and when I play, I play hard.” I did not know what he meant by this but as time passed and I got to know him a little I think he meant something like “Whatever the task is, you should give it full attention, and do the best job possible.” During that first class he gave us something to read. While we were reading, someone walked by the window in the 7th – 8th grade room. I looked up from my reading and watched the person outside. I remember him calling on me directly and saying something like “Why don’t you go out there and see what his business is?” Needless to say I was embarrassed and scared of him and was pretty sure I wasn’t going to like him.

 

Mr. Murk was quite a story teller. On many situations he would tell a story about himself and sometimes I thought he was exaggerating. Aletta Smith wrote He had the most wonderful sense of humor and told great, embellished stories." He would always join in on conversations among students and offer his words of wisdom. It seemed that he had experiences in everything.

 

Mr. Murk taught science and agriculture and I’m sure other classes that I don’t remember. He also coached basketball, baseball, and softball. He had a knack for knowing when someone needed encouragement or help and he could also be a disciplinarian if the situation warranted it.

 

I have many memories of Mr. Murk and space does not permit me to share many of them with you. However, I want to share some:

 

a) One time we were going to a ballgame and everyone was to meet at his house at a certain time. Many of us showed up early, so he got out the dominoes. Some said they knew how to play while others did not. As we were playing dominoes he was coaching and teaching us to play dominoes. He was the constant teacher.

 

b) On one occasion on a Friday night at a party some boys got together and threw eggs at Mr. Portman’s house. Mr. Portman could not find out who did this. Mr. Murk and Mr. Portman visited about this and tried to listen to students conversations to learn who had done this. After about a week, many of us were in the study hall and he announced that he was going by the sheriff’s office this afternoon to report this and we could expect the sheriff  to come around and ask us questions. We did not know what he was doing but I heard him say later that when he made the announcement he could see the faces light up on about 4 boys. He started visiting with these boys and before the end of the hour he had a confession. I don’t think he wanted any students to get into trouble but he wanted that problem solved. He was a detective and counselor.

 

c) When he first came to Russett one of the rules was no smoking. Several of the boys would sneak around and smoke and leave their evidence handy. I don’t think he tried very hard to find out who was doing it, but he decided they were going to smoke anyway so why not give them a place to smoke, if their parents approved, and not influence some of the younger kids to smoke. He came up with a novel idea for those days. He designated the entrance to the gym as the smoke area. As it turned out many of us non smokers would go down to the smoke area just to be around everyone. This did keep some smoking from going on around the younger kids.

 

d) He told a story about buying his first pair of cowboy boots. He was wearing them and went to a ballgame. During an intermission he went to the bathroom. While in the bathroom a drunk peed on his cowboy boots. Mr. Murk told the drunk that he had to shine his boots. The drunk refused. Mr. Murk said “I was a boxer, I started down low and came up with a punch right under his chin. The drunk staggered a little and shook his head and started for me. I knew that he had taken the hardest punch I had and it didn’t phase him so I knew I could not put him out. So I ran.

 

Mr. Murk taught me in the 8th grade and all through high school and even stayed at Russett for some time after I graduated. He moved back to Milburn to teach, but when Mr. Portman left he came back to Russett as superintendent until they lost the high school. The grade school continued for a time after that. He and I communicated some while I was in service. I wish I had saved some of his letters to share with his daughters but I was young and did not see the importance of it. After I had been out of high school about 5 years he told me that he thought I should go back to college and get my degree. He said “If you go back, you will always be glad you did.” Yes, I went back to school, got my degree and became a teacher. I think some of the things I did as a teacher were modeled after Mr. Murk. All teachers go into class the first day and spell out what the rules are. Many students are scared after the first day, as I was, but in later years they tell you that they appreciated you for trying to help them.

 

One of my students, Phyllis Caldwell from Milburn, told me she knew Mr. Murk and she only lived a short distance from him. She was having difficulty with her math with another teacher. Mr. Murk told her to come to his house and he would help her. She said she would go to his house nearly every day and he would help her for an hour or so and that he could explain math better than the other teacher.

 

Mr. Littlepage was another teacher at Russett. He later became superintendent at Tishomingo. On one of my visits to Tishomingo, I visited with Mr. Littlepage and of course one of the topics was Mr. Murk. Mr. Murk’s youngest daughter, Jackie, attended school at Tishomingo. Mr. Littlepage said something about Mr. Murk like this, “He had a knack for saying just the right thing to a student to make that student perform at a level they never knew they could, in classes as well as sports.

 

I have heard and I believe that all students experience a special bond with someone, a teacher, a preacher, a policeman, or even a peer. Sometimes they don’t recognize that the bond exists for several years. I’ve had former students come back and tell me how they appreciated the effort I gave to help them achieve. I never did get the right opportunity to say that to Mr. Murk. Also, after we become adults and look back we always have a special feeling about one of the favorite places to work. Mr. Murk’s son-in-law told me that after he married into their family, he heard many stories about people and happenings in Russett from Mr. Murk. I have to believe that Russett was one of his favorite places to work. After all he did drink from the well.

 

Although it is too late for me to tell him personally of my appreciation for all the things he did for me, I need to say it for myself. So, Mr. Murk “Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! You were my friend and I will always cherish the memories I have of things we experienced.

 

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Last modified: 05/27/07