Johnston Murray

Johnston Murray
14th Governor of Oklahoma
In office
January 8, 1951  January 10, 1955
Lieutenant James E. Berry
Preceded by Roy J. Turner
Succeeded by Raymond D. Gary
Personal details
Born (1902-07-21)July 21, 1902
Emet, Johnston County, Indian Territory
Died April 16, 1974(1974-04-16) (aged 71)
Resting place Tishomingo City Cemetery
34°13′38.6″N 96°40′43.3″W / 34.227389°N 96.678694°W / 34.227389; -96.678694 (Johnston Murray Burial Site)
Political party Democratic
Profession lawyer
Religion Methodism
Son of former Oklahoma Governor William H. "Alfalfa Bill" Murray.

Johnston Murray (July 21, 1902 – April 16, 1974) was an American lawyer and the 14th governor of Oklahoma. A member of the Democratic Party, he served as governor from 1951 to 1955. After his term ended, he worked as an attorney for the Oklahoma State Department of Welfare until his death on April 16, 1974.

His father, William H. Murray, was the ninth governor of Oklahoma and the president of the constitutional convention leading up to statehood. Both are buried in Tishomingo, Oklahoma.

Early life and career

Murray was born July 21, 1902, in the mansion of the Chickasaw Nation's Governor at Emet, Johnston County, Indian Territory. His early education was governed by the location of the work of his famous father, former Gov. William H. Murray.

Murray married Marion Draughon of Sulphur, Oklahoma, in 1923, and had one child.[1] After graduation from the Murray State School of Agriculture (now Murray State College) in 1924, he went to Bolivia where he lived for four years trying to make a success of his father's colonization expedition there.[1] When he returned to Oklahoma, he worked in oil and gas fields, rising to the role of plant manager.[2] Murray divorced his wife in 1929 and married Willie Roberta Emerson in 1933.[1]

Murray received his law degree from Oklahoma City University School of Law in 1947. He was chairman of the Oklahoma Electoral College in 1940, and a member of the Electoral College again in 1948.[3]

Political career

Before his election to governor, Murray served as Democratic chair of the Oklahoma Eighth Congressional District and as chair of local political groups in Kay and Oklahoma counties.[2] He also served as chair of the Oklahoma Election Board and secretary of the Oklahoma Land Commission.[2]

Murray served as governor from 1951 to 1955.[4] He attempted to reduce state spending but was blocked by state legislators.[1] Since he was prohibited, constitutionally, from succeeding himself, his wife Willie ran for governor in 1954 but failed to win. A few months later there was a bitter divorce with Willie accusing Murray of public drunkenness and adultery.[1] The divorce was final in 1956 and he later married Helen Shutt. Murray moved to Fort Worth, Texas, and worked for an oil well servicing company and later with a limousine service.[1] Murray returned to Oklahoma City and formed a law partnership with Whit Pate in February, 1960. He ran for Oklahoma State Treasurer in 1962, surprisingly finishing last in the four-man Democratic primary field with 77,881 votes (18.24%).[5] He later worked as a consulting attorney for the Oklahoma Department of Welfare.[3]


Murray served as an attorney with the Oklahoma Department of Public Welfare until his death April 16, 1974.[4] He is buried in Tishomingo, Oklahoma, where his father, William Murray is also buried.[4]


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Dowell, Erin, "Murray, Johnston (1902–1974)," Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture (accessed May 27, 2010).
  2. 1 2 3 Myers, Jim L. "Johnston Murray Governor of Oklahoma 1951-1955." Fischer, LeRoy H., ed., Oklahoma's Governors, 1929-1955: Depression to Prosperity (Oklahoma Historical Society, 1983), pp 174-195. ISBN 0-941498-34-4
  3. 1 2 "Oklahoma Governor Johnston Murray". National Governors Association. Retrieved 12 September 2012.
  4. 1 2 3 Oklahoma Department of Libraries biography
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Political offices
Preceded by
Roy J. Turner
Governor of

Succeeded by
Raymond D. Gary
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