Murray Frank Died on January 3rd at age 93 (Nigeria staff)


Murray Frank

FRANK, Murray Walter Age 93, died peacefully at his home in Jamaica Plain on January 3.

Murray was born February 17, 1927 in the Bronx. He and his brother Arnold were raised by their parents Jacob and Elizabeth (Neitlich) in an orthodox Jewish home. Murray lived a productive life, his endeavors unified by striving for a more just society.

He served in the Pacific during World War II. Afterwards he went to New York University on the GI Bill. There he joined the Student Division of the World Federalists, embracing post-war idealism in the spirit of the United Nations. He took a gap year to organize for the group, launching a lifetime of social engagement. He earned a masters degree in social work at Columbia University in 1954.

In 1956, he married Ginna (deConingh); they moved to Chicago, where he worked at a settlement house. In 1961, he joined the first cohort of the Peace Corps, and was stationed [on the staff] in Nigeria for three years, accompanied by Ginna and their two young children, Lisa and Peter. He often said it was the most exciting time of his life.

In 1965, the family returned to the U.S. and Murray joined the Selma to Montgomery march for voting rights.

His marriage to Ginna ended and the following year he met his second wife, Peggy (Galdston). They settled in Newton, where Nathaniel and Jeremiah were born, and were married 18 years. Murray earned a doctorate in social policy at Brandeis University, then worked at Rutgers University creating courses in social policy. Later he worked for the New York City branch of AFSCME, the public employees’ union, directing an innovative continuing education curriculum.

In 1980 he began a long career at UMass Boston, first as dean of the College of Public and Community Service and later as a fellow of the McCormack Institute.

His greatest joy was his third wife Joanna Gilman, until her death in 2012. More recently, his life was sweetened by time with his companion Phyllis Hersch.

He loved and was greatly loved and admired in return by his four children and their partners: Lisa and John Scarsella, Peter and Jonathan Lerner, Nathaniel, and Jeremiah and Licia Carlson, and by his grandchildren Edward, Kimberly, Jessica and Julian. Pancreatic cancer overtook Murray’s body but his mind stayed quick. He spoke little of discomfort and remained purposeful, meeting regularly with committees at Beacon Hill Village, Dana Farber Cancer Institute, and other organizations.

Aware that time was short, he put enormous energy into friends and family. His fascination with people and with the world in general sustained him and inspired those around him. His life was always his own and he guided it to a graceful close.

Donations to the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, which provided both him and Joanna remarkable care. Services will be private.

As the first Western Regional Director of Peace Corps Nigeria, Murray Frank played a key role in the Marjorie Michalmore incident of 1961. His attention to caring for Marjorie and advising PVCs in Ibadan was key to the survival of the Peace Corps as an organization. JC

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  • I remember Murray Frank from my time as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Western Region (as it was then)
    of Nigeria in 1963 and 1964. He was a tireless and competent administrator, in charge of all of us of us serving in the West in those early years when we were all more or less playing it by ear. He made life a little more pleasant in what could sometimes be difficult circumstances. We knew we could come to him with our problems and receive a sympathetic understanding. Good to see he lived such a long and productive life.

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