Since 1981 Tom Murry has called El Dorado home and during that time he has had a tremendous impact on the community and many lives of those in El Dorado.

Since 1981 Tom Murry has called El Dorado home and during that time he has had a tremendous impact on the community and many lives of those in El Dorado.

Murry passed away at his home Friday and those who knew him shared fond memories and stories.

One of those who has known Tom since before he came to El Dorado was Jim Clennan, who hired Tom to work for him.

"In the fall of 1981, my wife and I met Tom and Kim in Emporia, Kan., for an interview with Bacon Hoyt Insurance," Clennan said. "We had a merger and we needed employees."

He recalled Ryan, their son, was just a little boy sitting in a car carrier in the chair.

"I just kind of fell in love with him because I'm Irish and he's Irish," Clennan said. "I hired him because he was Irish."

Tom had come to America from Ireland when he was 4 years old.

"The Irishman came to town in 1981 and we put the Bacon Hoyt agency together there in the old opera house across the street," Clennan continued.

From that it changed to the Insurance Center, then ICI.

"I worked together with Tom and made him a partner," Clennan said.

They put in place a perpetuation plan where Tom bought stock and eventually took over the agency.

"From the time Tom started with me, I would say the agency grew 30 times its size," Clennan said. "A lot of that having to do with his energy and the partnership with him and others.

"As far as Tom, he's just been a joy to work with over the years because he was such an active person in the community. He would volunteer for about anything."

One of those things he volunteered for was singing at weddings and funerals and if he was offered to be paid, he would donate that money back.

"He's been a joy for a lot of people in the town and we're going to thoroughly miss him," said Clennan, who described Tom as like a little brother to him. "He left a lot of little nuggets here. If you asked him to do it, he would do it."

Many of those activities were done with Steve Funk.

"I came to town a couple years before Tom but when Tom got here I felt like I really had a partner in becoming involved in what was to both of us our adopted hometown," Funk said. "So we immediately got involved together in the Chamber and Chamber Ambassadors and civic clubs, whatever we could do. It always seemed like we were interested in moving in the same direction."

Funk recalled their first real mission together was in 1985 when they decided they should try to elect two or three new city commissioners. They did just that, then the next thing they knew Stan Stewart was the city manager.

"We didn't know it at the time, but that was a really, really good development for El Dorado and something that Tom and I were proud of, not to mention Stan was our really good friend," Funk continued.

Funk and Tom also were both charter members of El Dorado Inc.

"We are both extremely proud of our service to El Dorado Inc and all the jobs that have been created from Inc," Funk said.

Tom served on the Inc board for more than 25 years, leaving the board just last year.

"To me, Tom provided strong leadership and support for the El Dorado Inc board of directors," said Linda Jolly, Inc executive director. "He had immense vision and he wasn't afraid to tackle hard issues that he believed in to make the El Dorado community a better place to live."

In addition to Inc, Tom also served on the Chamber of Commerce.

Funk recalled being at a Chamber meeting in 1986 and Charlie Heilman, who was the city judge at the time and master of ceremonies, talked about Tom and he being the perfect team.

"He said 'Steve wants to build consensus and Tom wants to say get out of my way, let's get this done'," Funk shared. "He said 'they make a pretty good combination'."

Funk also recalled one time when he was Chamber president and he told Tom that Cliff Stone had mentioned there used to be a pond in East Park called Davis Landing.

"I said 'why don't you head a committee of the chamber that recreates that pond'," Funk said. "Tom took off like a rocket and before you know it, we had the pond and the bridge over the pond. That was just one example of how you gave Tom Murry a mission and he would get it done."

Then for many years, Tom and ICI sponsored the Prairie Port fishing derby held there.

"Tom and I were great friends," Funk said. "Of all the people that I have known in this city, next to Cliff Stone, I put Tom right up there in terms of somebody who has changed El Dorado for the better and his legacy will be long lasting. He was a wonderful influence and we're all going to miss him greatly."

Tom and his wife, Kim, were also good friends with Wanda Stewart, and her late husband, Stan.

Wanda recalled they met Tom and Kim when they invited them into their home for a New Year's Eve party right after they moved here.

She said they were instantly friends and had a lot in common, of which one thing was they were married on the same day in the same year.

They enjoyed movies, golfing and going out to eat. They would take a couples golf trip every year with them and the Joyces. Wanda explained the Joyces were married the same weekend, but the year before the rest of them, so they always called it their anniversary trip.

"Tom was definitely fond of 007 movies and we always gave him a hard time because he would say ‘I think that could actually happen’," Wanda said.

She described Tom as very special.

"He's got a kind soul," she said. "I don't know any kinder, gentler guy out there. He's going to be extremely missed. The community as a whole will miss him."

Jean Plummer also was friends with Tom, saying he had a real love for community.

She recalled Tom's beautiful tenor voice, saying she got acquainted with Tom by playing piano for him when he was singing.

"Tom was a good friend and of course, we had cancer about the same time, so we talked about that and I tried to be an encourager to him," Plummer said. "I think the biggest thing I would like to remember about Tom is that his spirituality had grown so much over the last few years. I noticed in the last few years, even before he had cancer, how much closer I think he was to the Lord."

One other thing she remembers about Tom was his talk of when he first got to go back to Ireland and how excited he was.

Tom also had many other community involvements, including the schools, BG Sports Complex, Butler Community College, the Educational Facilities Authority and more.

Services are pending with Kirby-Morris Funeral Home. A full obituary will appear online at www.butlercountytimesgazette.com on Monday and it will be in the Tuesday edition of the Times-Gazette.