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Murray Milner Jr. '57 February 5, 2020 2:12 PM updated: February 5, 2020 2:18 PM

Murray Milner Jr. passed away on Monday, November 23, 2019, at Hospice of the Piedmont. Murray was born July 21, 1935, in Dallas, Texas to Murray Milner Sr. and Mary Brownfield Milner. He was soon joined by his brother, Larry Milner and 13 years later by his sister, Shy Milner Hicks. He became active in the 4-H club; his Jersey Red Duroc sow, Lucille Ball, won first place in the Dallas County Fair. In 1947 his family moved to Brownwood, Texas, where his father opened a bicycle, lawn mower, and motor scooter shop. He continued to be active in the 4-H club and was a member of the 4-H State Council, and a delegate to the National 4-H Club Congress in Chicago. From the 8th grade through high school he worked for Pecan Valley Electric Company on Saturdays and in the summer, wiring houses and other buildings in repairing electrical appliances. He was also 4-H Texas State Grass Identification Champion in 1952. Murray enrolled in Texas A&M University in 1953. During the summers, he worked for the U.S. agricultural statistical service, based in Austin, and participated in the first random sample surveys estimating crop production. He became responsible for hiring, training, and supervising local interviewers scattered over the state and drove thousands of miles in an un-airconditioned government car during the summer in Texas. On September 8, 1957, Murray married his longtime sweetheart Sylvia Shelton. Three days later they flew to New York City where they both enrolled in Union Theological Seminary. After receiving an M. Div. degree, he took a job with Church World Service, opening their program in what was then East Pakistan. The Milners' first daughter, Helene, was born in Dhaka. In 1963 he enrolled in the master's degree program in sociology at the University of Texas in Austin. While in Austin, the Milners' second daughter, Catherine, was born. In 1965 the Milners returned to New York where Murray entered the PhD program in sociology at Columbia University. In September 1972, he became an associate professor of Sociology at the University of Virginia. In 1976 he received a Fulbright Fellowship to India, taught in The Graduate Department of Sociology of Patna University, traveled widely in India, and began to study the Indian caste system. In the early 1980s he became active in the movement to prevent nuclear war. He served as co-chair of the Interfaith Peace Coalition, which eventually became the Charlottesville Center for Peace and Justice. He helped organize a conference at the University of Virginia to discuss and debate these issues which included William Colby, former director of the CIA, as a keynote speaker. Of the conference grew a television documentary, "Living Double Lives," broadcast nationally July 7, 1985 over more than 150 PBS affiliate stations. In 1992, his book Status and Sacredness received the American Sociological Association's distinguished publication award as the best book in sociology published in the preceding two years. In 2004 his book Freaks, Geeks, and Cool Kids was widely adopted for college courses. In 2004, he retired from full-time teaching and became a senior fellow at The Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture, which had been founded by his longtime colleague James Hunter. He began fishing with his father when he was quite young and continued to be an enthusiastic bass fisherman into his eighties, spending some of his most pleasant hours on the James River or the Shenandoah River in his canoe often with his friend Bruce Busching. Hiking in the Blue Ridge Mountains was also a frequent diversion. Murray was a committed liberal and questioning Christian throughout his life. As a longtime member of Westminster Presbyterian Church in Charlottesville, he served as Deacon, Elder, and a longtime member of the Peace and Justice committee. One of his greatest joys was time with his family members, including various multi-generational vacations in Nova Scotia, the UK, France, Germany, the Netherlands, and India, and various places in the U.S. He is survived by the love of his life, Sylvia, his wife of 62 years; his grandchildren, Shelton Brown and Ashely Milner; his daughters, Helene Milner (Boyd Brown) and Catherine Milner; and by his sister, Shy Hicks and a close niece, Stacey Hicks Jones. A Memorial Service will take place Friday, January 17, 2020, at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Charlottesville at 4 p.m. Interment will be private. In lieu of flowers, gifts may be given to the Lectureship Endowment Fund of Westminster Presbyterian Church, the Institute for Advance Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia, or Hospice of the Piedmont.

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