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Bokeelia nursery owner remembered for generous heart

By Staff | Apr 24, 2009

Robert Dean Murray’s life may have ended near a Cape Coral canal Wednesday, but the spirit by which he lived remains a thriving memory in the minds of family, friends and the community of Bokeelia, where he was known as a giving and selfless individual.
Murray, 71, and his wife, Vivian, had been married 51 years. The couple settled in Bokeelia in 1972 when they opened Treehouse Nursery, according to their daughter, Lianne Murray.
Robert and Vivian Murray, she said, are well-known for the successful tropical fruit business on Harbor Boulevard and their charity to the less fortunate.
“My mom’s dream was to have her own tropical fruit nursery,” Lianne said Thursday during a telephone interview with the Cape Coral Daily Breeze. “My father and mother are both kind and generous to people in need.”
The Murrays gave truckloads of tropical fruit to victims of Hurricane Andrew in Homestead, Fla., in 1992. They also facilitated various tropical fruit enthusiasts to start successful businesses in the market, she said.
Preliminary police investigations suggest Murray committed suicide. According to reports, he was found by a seawall near the intersection of Diplomat Parkway and Burnt Store Road with an apparent fatal gunshot wound to the head at approximately 9:01 a.m. Wednesday.
Reports state a white Chevrolet car belonging to Murray was discovered on scene and taken into evidence.
“In recent times I think my father was suffering from depression, and my mother was having some health problems,” Lianne said. “He didn’t want my mom to be the first one to go, and I think that’s why he ended his life.”
Le Beery, owner of Le’s Oriental Cuisine on Pine Island, said the Murrays were friends of hers, and that she is saddened by Murray’s death.
Beery said the Murrays are well-known on the island as kindhearted, successful business owners.
“Everybody knows them,” she said. “They’re really, really nice people. It’s really sad.”
Murray was born Jan. 5, 1938, in Stuart, Fla. Growing up, he fished and worked at a local fishery to help his parents recover from hard times after the Great Depression.
He served honorably for two tours in the U.S. Air Force, and later became an air traffic controller, a job he held for 22 years. Murray worked at Pagefield Airport in Fort Myers before eventually moving to Bokeelia with Vivian.
He is survived by his daughters, Lianne Murray and Robin White; grandchildren, Daniel Murray, Allison Ramires and Tricia Evans; and four great-grandchildren.
Murray gave speeches and presentations to tropical fruit clubs throughout the area, and many of the fruit trees from Treehouse Nursery are growing in the yards of Lee County residents, Lianne said.
“He’s loved and will be missed by many,” she said.
Lianne added that hurtful comments about Murray posted by the public on local media Web sites are “heartwrenching,” but feels her decision to let people know who Murray was as a person is a positive one.
A public viewing will be held from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday at Coral Ridge Cemetery, with a funeral service to begin after.