Richard Melville Murch

Published 9:51 pm Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Richard Melville Murch, 94, of Fleming Island, died on Oct. 31, 2015, of complications following surgery. Rich was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., to Elmer and Florence Tassey Murch. While he was an only child, he had a number of cousins whom he considered his siblings.

Rich was predeceased by his devoted wife of 64 years, Evelyn Layman Murch. He is survived by their children, Richard M. Murch Jr., of Fleming Island, Fla., daughters Barbara M. Henley and husband, David, of Currituck, N.C.; and Nancy M. Dobbins, of Phoenix, Ariz. Rich was lovingly known as “Granddaddy” by his grandchildren, Christine D. Lipfert and husband, John, of Phoenix, Ariz., Haley H. Greiner, and husband, Dave, of Chesapeake, Shawn Murch, of Annandale, and Robert “Bobby” Murch, of Bluffton, S.C. Rich is also survived by five great-grandchildren, Zachery Murch; David and Christian Greiner; and Julia and Madeline Lipfert, as well as by family on Ev’s side of the family, a cousin, and numerous second cousins.

Rich worked at a bank and was attending school when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. He tried to enlist in the Army, but was turned down due to an overbite. Not to be deterred, he regularly stopped by the recruiting office, and several months later — when the U.S. was entrenched in the war — the military was willing to overlook his overbite, and he successfully enlisted.

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Rich joined the Medical Company of the 417 Infantry Regiment, part of the 76th Division. In September of 1943, the commanding officer read a letter to the troops from the President of the United States asking for volunteers for a “dangerous and hazardous mission.” Rich and a friend volunteered for what they would later learn was a special operations jungle warfare unit in the South East Asia Theater of World War II, or the China-Burma-India (CBI) Theater. The 5307th Composite Unit, using the code name of “Galahad,” was led by Frank Merrill and would later become known as Merrill’s Marauders. He served in the Army until his discharge in January 1946, and then continued his service in the National Guard for 10 additional years.

Following the war, Rich met and married the love of his life, Evelyn Layman. He worked for the George Schmitt Company for more than 40 years. His last position was president of Vi-Tex Packaging, where he ran the Virginia, Texas and Santa Cruz printing plants.

Rich and Ev enjoyed a sense of adventure. They received their pilots’ licenses in the early 60s; enjoyed camping with their family; sailing the East Coast and the Caribbean in their sailboat, The Shenandoah, and later in their trawler, The Second Impression. In the 1990s they enjoyed many trips across the U.S., and to Canada and Alaska, in their motor home.

Richard Murch, son, cousin, Medic, 1st. Lieutenant, Marauder, hero, friend, husband, father, uncle, grandfather, pilot, Captain, a fighter of pirates, Rotarian, a Paul Harris Fellow, and overall nice guy … he did it all.

A celebration of Rich’s life will be held on Wednesday, Nov. 18, at 11 a.m., at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, 400 St. John’s Ave., Green Cove Springs, Fla. While Ev passed away more than two years ago, it was Rich’s wish that they be buried together. Therefore, the ashes of Rich and Ev will be interred on Tuesday, Nov. 17 at 11 a.m. at Jacksonville National Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, gifts may be made to St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, 400 St. John’s Ave., Green Cove Springs, Fla.

Arrangements are under the care of Russell Haven of Rest Cemetery, Funeral Home and Cremation Center, 2335 Sandridge Road, Green Cove Springs, FL 32043. Family and friends may share their condolences at 904-284-7720.