Friday, June 10, 2005

MURRY ENGLE / 1930-2005

Isle journalist had a love
for adventurous reporting

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She flew with the Navy precision flight team Blue Angels and said she loved every minute of it, although she threw up nine times.

She posed as a suicidal patient to investigate mental health care at the Hawaii State Hospital.

Another time, she wore a black wig and dark theatrical makeup to see how black Americans were treated in Honolulu.

Those are only a few highlights of Murry (Mary Frances) Engle's career as a reporter for the Honolulu Star-Bulletin for 23 years.

Engle, 74, died May 24 in Portland, Ore., of congestive heart failure.

She was born in Sedalia, Mo., on July 29, 1930, and began reporting for the Sedalia Democrat during her junior year in high school. She continued with that paper after graduation, went to the Marshall, Mo., Democrat-News for three years and returned to the Sedalia Democrat until 1966.

She worked for Boeing Co.'s public relations department in Seattle, co-editing the Boeing News and Boeing Magazine, from 1967 until February 1970, when she joined the Star-Bulletin.

She retired in 1993 on a disability because of diabetes and mild dyslexia.

Former Managing Editor Dave Shapiro said at that time, "Murry has one of the biggest hearts in the newsroom, and I will miss her for her humanity. Despite all she has seen and done as a reporter, she has avoided the cynicism that cripples many journalists."

Engle covered medicine, food, religion and general assignments and wrote features and obituaries.

She won many awards over the years from the Associated Press, Hawaii Medical Association, American Medical Association, American Diabetes Association, Theta Sigma Phi Alpha Chapter in Seattle, Missouri Press Association and Missouri Press Women's Association. She was named Woman of the Year in 1972 by Women in Communications in Hawaii.

Engle felt the stories she wrote after a week as a "patient" in the State Hospital in 1970 were among her best. The Star-Bulletin won a national award in 1971 for the series.

Engle practiced Tibetan Buddhism and was known for her sunny, bubbling personality and unconventional lifestyle.

She never drove, taking taxis everywhere she had to go.

She rode ornately painted elephants in India, trekked the Himalayas in Nepal, went sky diving, and studied with the Dalai Lama, who became her friend.

She volunteered at the Crisis Center in Honolulu and was involved as a philanthropist with Habilitat and the Kagyu Thegchen Ling Tibetan Buddhist Meditation Center, where she lived for a time.

"She learned there to have compassion for all sentient beings, which would be good for all of us to do," said her daughter, Christy Kristjanson.

"Bells in Nepal are being rung and prayers said with friends she made there."

Also surviving are two sons, Theodore B. and William P. II. A third son, Daniel, died in 1999.

Private services will be held at a waterfall at Mount Rainier later this summer at Engle's request.

Donations in her memory may be made to the American Diabetes Association.

E-mail to City Desk


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