Remembering a great colleague

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By Jim Clark

Sometimes your week just doesn't go as planned.

Mine was thrown for a loop on Tuesday when I learned that the day before a journalism colleague who I both liked and respected had died.

Vince Murray, 56, was a former sports editor of the Ocala Star-Banner, and I had the pleasure of working with him for a few years.

But I had met him long before that, when he was working in St. Petersburg, and we had talked a lot of sports.

He was the most knowledgeable man I know when it comes to high school athletes. He used to put out a list of the top 100 in Florida in the major sports, and he could tell you where each player was going to college or to which school he was leaning. He had great sources all over the state, and put out a recruiting newsletter.

He was instrumental in the operation of the Kingdom of the Sun high school basketball tournament, held over the holidays at Vanguard in Ocala, a tourney in which Williston played just a couple of years ago. He also played a big role in the Diamondback Challenge at Belleview High School and a similar day of basketball at Forest in which top teams from all over the state came to play one game, bringing some of the greatest talent assembled in one place to the area. It also brought coaches in and some players received scholarships because of it.

About 18 years ago he was involved in an auto accident, which he once described to me as a "fender bender." But he suffered back damage in that accident, and was confined to a wheelchair ever since.

That didn't stop him.

He would be at various sporting events, taking it all in and obviously taking mental notes as he went along. His wife Jimmie Sue was often by his side, but he also drew a crowd of people who just wanted to say hello and talk a little sports.

Even at football games, he would be in his van behind an end zone watching the games. He was someone who truly liked what he did and conveyed that enthusiasm to others.

I always enjoyed reading his material, and it wasn't just limited to sports. For a while in Ocala he had the title of associate editor, and occasionally he would come up with an editorial or column in that capacity that showed his versatility.

I didn't get to any of his events this past season, mostly because Williston's teams were playing somewhere else at the same time. But I'm sure I could have fit in a visit to one of them, and now I'm sorry I didn't.

So all I can say is rest in peace, Vince, knowing that you left behind a lot of people you touched in a positive way. For any of us, that's a great way to be remembered.

Jim Clark is the editor of the Williston Pioneer Sun News. He can be reached at editor@willistonpioneer.com or at 528-3343.