Shortly after being diagnosed with cancer, Lieutenant Matthew Murray, a longtime Massachusetts State Police officer, decided he would compete in a triathlon. He came in last, but it didn’t matter: The contest was about finishing.
A cancer diagnosis “doesn’t mean your life is over,” he told the Globe in September 2010. As if to emphasize that point, he threw the ceremonial first pitch in Fenway Park Sept. 20 of that year when the Red Sox hosted the Baltimore Orioles.
Mr. Murray had been selected for the honor as a participant in the patient ambassador program, sponsored by Millennium Pharmaceuticals of Cambridge, through which he talked with patients and caregivers about the benefits of taking a positive approach.
“Cancer is a disease that I have to live with and fight against, but I don’t spend any time whatsoever lamenting my situation,” he told the Globe. “There’s so much more to do.”
Mr. Murray, who at times had served as a sergeant and a media spokesman for the State Police, died of multiple myeloma Sept. 14 in UMass Memorial Medical Center. He was 44 and lived in Shrewsbury.
Major Sean Baxter, a retired troop commander for Central Massachusetts, said that for Mr. Murray, slowing down was never an option.
“He never once complained when he was at work,” Baxter said. “As a matter of fact, he always asked to do more.”
Baxter, a close friend for 20 years, said Mr. Murray had a great sense of humor.
“He was always laughing,” Baxter said. “He never let any kind of adversity take him down.”
Sergeant James Devlin said Mr. Murray was a very loyal friend who embodied the esprit de corps of the State Police. He was confident and bold, Devlin said, and compassionate.
“He commanded your respect almost immediately,” Devlin said.
In February 2000, Mr. Murray married Carla Fuhrmann, and they lived in Auburn until moving to Shrewsbury about five years ago.
In June 1992, he entered the State Police Academy and graduated that October. Mr. Murray was assigned to the Northampton barracks until 1999, when he was transferred to the Sturbridge barracks. In December 2001, he was assigned to the State Police bomb squad and worked with the State Fire Marshal’s Office until 2005.
Mr. Murray was promoted to sergeant in 2005 and worked at the Charlton barracks before serving in the office of the commander of the division of field services at State Police Headquarters in Framingham. He transferred to the media relations unit at headquarters in September 2009.
Sergeant Dan Wildgrube said Mr. Murray, who had cancer for more than seven years, often juggled work and chemotherapy, even during his long days as a media spokesman.
“He would have a cancer treatment on a Wednesday night, and Thursday morning he’d be answering the calls,” Wildgrube said.
Shortly after being promoted to lieutenant last year in July, Mr. Murray transferred to the criminal information section at the Commonwealth Fusion Center, where he reviewed infrastructure crucial to the state’s safety, such as bridges, power plants, and reservoirs.
Although Mr. Murray had a commanding presence at work, he also had a softer side. His father, Andy of Pocasset, said he was a “gently tough” person.
“I don’t think he ever abused his power,” his father said.
He added that Mr. Murray made sure to spend a lot of time with his children.
His decorated his office with many photos of his family.
“He was a great son, a great husband,” his father said, “but he was an amazing father.”
Matthew John Murray, who most referred to as Matt, was born in Boston. He grew up in Northborough and attended St. John’s High School in Shrewsbury, graduating in 1986.
Mr. Murray graduated from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, where he played hockey and studied finance. He also received a master’s degree in criminal justice from Anna Maria College in Paxton.
In addition to his wife and father, Mr. Murray leaves two sons, Aidan and Justin, both of Shrewsbury; his mother, Virginia of Northborough; three sisters, Dianne Young of Holden, Mary Kernan of Woodbridge, Conn., and Virginia Massey of Farmingdale, Maine; a brother, Andrew Jr. of Shrewsbury; his stepmother, Sheila of Pocasset; a stepsister, Megan Hart of Scarborough, Maine; and a stepbrother, Matthew McQuade of Holden.
A funeral Mass will be said at 10 a.m. Wednesday in St. Mary Church in Shrewsbury. Burial will be in Mountain View Cemetery in Shrewsbury.
When Mr. Murray threw the first pitch at Fenway Park in 2010, he kept the ball, which was clean and unstained, to remind his coworkers that his throw was true, and didn’t bounce en route to the catcher.
“There are going to be obstacles to face, but you can get through it,” he told the Globe at the time.
“He was the toughest man I ever met in my life: mentally and physically tough,” Wildgrube said. “He had a never, ever quit attitude.”