Murray Knowles Obituary
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In Memory of

Murray William Knowles

July 2, 1916 - June 3, 2014
Obituary

KNOWLES, Murray William, age 97 passed away on June 3, 2014 at Camp Hill Veterans Home. Predeceased by his wife, Josephine (Jodie) Armstrong Tilton; brother, Walter and sister, Hazel Capson. He is survived by son, Stephen (Christine) of Gatineau, Quebec; daughter, Meredith Westlake (John) of Ottawa; grandsons, Scott Westlake (Marisa) of Ottawa, Craig Westlake of Canmore, Alberta, and Christophe, Martin and Marc Knowles (Shoko), all of Montreal; great granddaughters, Emma and Keira Westlake, step great-grandsons, Aiden and Owen; nephew, Allison Capson (Janet) of Saint John and niece, Cindy Knowles of Markham, Ontario. Born in Saint...
KNOWLES, Murray William, age 97 passed away on June 3, 2014 at Camp Hill Veterans Home.

Predeceased by his wife, Josephine (Jodie) Armstrong Tilton; brother, Walter and sister, Hazel Capson. He is survived by son, Stephen (Christine) of Gatineau, Quebec; daughter, Meredith Westlake (John) of Ottawa; grandsons, Scott Westlake (Marisa) of Ottawa, Craig Westlake of Canmore, Alberta, and Christophe, Martin and Marc Knowles (Shoko), all of Montreal; great granddaughters, Emma and Keira Westlake, step great-grandsons, Aiden and Owen; nephew, Allison Capson (Janet) of Saint John and niece, Cindy Knowles of Markham, Ontario.

Born in Saint John on 2 July 1916, son of the late Walter and Lillian Knowles, he was employed in a sales and engineering capacity by T. McAvity and Sons until 1940 when he joined the Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve at HMCS Brunswicker. He remembers attending a lecture by Captain Fogarty Fegan, V.C., on board HMS Jervis Bay before proceeding to Halifax for officer training and subsequent appointment to HMS Rajputana, a former P&O liner requisitioned by the Royal Navy and fitted out as an Armed Merchant Cruiser. On the morning of 13 April 1941 while on patrol in Denmark Strait, Rajputana was struck by two torpedoes fired by U-108 and sunk with the loss of 42 of her company. Command of one of the lifeboats devolved to Sub-Lieutenant Murray Knowles until survivors were rescued 12 hours later by the destroyer HMS Legion and landed in Iceland.

After survivors' leave Murray served in minesweepers out of Sydney, Halifax and St. John's. In July 1942, he was promoted to lieutenant, received his first command, HMCS Suderoy V, and married his beloved, Jodie, daughter of the distinguished Tilton family of Saint John.

Having become an expert ship handler and experienced leader, in autumn 1943, Murray was appointed First Lieutenant of the new corvette HMCS Louisburg then being fitted out in Quebec City. Louisburg proceeded overseas the following spring and was assigned to escorting "Mulberries" through the English Channel to the Normandy beachheads. 17 days after D-Day he was informed by cable that Jodie, had given birth to Stephen on 6 June. Following many months of operations which included a vigorous night action fending off an E-boat attack on a convoy in the English Channel, Murray was appointed commanding officer of Louisburg in early 1945. On return from overseas Murray was promoted to lieutenant-commander and appointed Staff Officer (Operations) in HMCS Scotian, then the shore establishment responsible for disposing of Canada's wartime fleet and transitioning to peacetime configuration. During the Bedford Magazine fires and explosions which shook the north end Halifax over 18 and 19 July, 1945, he was one of the few naval personnel ordered to remain on duty in the Dockyard to monitor and report developments to Naval Service Headquarters in Ottawa.

Although recommended for a permanent commission, Murray decided, after 6 years of naval service, to take up the challenge of readapting to civilian life in 1946 when he joined the Ford Motor Company in Saint John as a district sales representative, ultimately becoming responsible for dealer development in the Maritimes. Daughter Meredith was born in September of that year. He managed automobile dealerships in Yarmouth, Sydney and Moncton from 1950 to 1967 when he and Jodie moved to Halifax. After arriving in Halifax in 1967 he began a new career in long term care administration with the Stevens Group of Companies and renewed his connection with the Navy, eventually becoming President of the Nova Scotia Naval Officers Association and an Honorary Life Member. He was one of the key individuals who in the early 1980's were successful in acquiring and restoring HMCS Sackville as the Canadian Naval Memorial. In recognition for his services he was awarded the Queen's Jubilee Medal. During his years in business he was active in such organizations as the Masonic Order, the Rotary Club, the Navy League, the Royal United Services Institute and the Missions to Seafarers for which he served as Chairman of the Board. He served the Anglican Church as warden and was a long time parishioner of St. Paul's in Halifax.

After his retirement in 1983, Murray and Jodie enjoyed 15 winters in Florida, their grandchildren and a busy social life. For several years he was commodore of the yacht club in their Florida community. Travel frequently involved cruises in a motor yacht, belonging to his late friend Philip Emerson, along the coast of Nova Scotia, the American seaboard, the Bahamas, the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Newfoundland and the Labrador coast. Always active, he was an avid walker and golfer and, in his younger years, speed skater. He enjoyed the stimulating speakers of the Probus Club of Halifax. For quiet times he enjoyed listening to classical music. As a proud resident of Halifax and its tree-lined streets, he and Jodie enjoyed their walks along the Halifax waterfront and in Point Pleasant Park. When Jodie's health declined Murray transformed himself into a caregiver, revealing once again an incredible ability to adapt to demanding circumstances. In April 2010, in his 94th year he moved into Cameron Hall to be close to Jodie who, after courageously living with Alzheimer's disease, passed away in November of the same year. Early in 2014 he settled into the Veterans Memorial Building where his network of friends and admirer young and old continued to grow.

Throughout his life Murray thrived on responsibility and community service. In the many organizations which benefited from his participation he inevitably rose to leadership positions. Well into his 80's he was elected president of his condo association. He was always available for veterans' causes, cutting a commanding presence in his blazer and medals. He was chosen to represent the naval service in the official Canadian delegations commemorating the 50th and 65th anniversaries of the D-Day landings in Normandy. After the Halifax Royal Fleet Review commemorating the Canadian Naval Centennial in June 2010 he was presented to her Majesty the Queen and made a presentation to HRH Prince Philip on behalf of the Canadian Naval Memorial Trust.

His family is grateful to the friends and to the staff at Camp Hill who accompanied him in his final weeks. Memorial donations may be made to the Alzheimer Society of Nova Scotia or the Canadian Naval Memorial Trust of which Murray was a life member.

Visitation will be held in J.A. Snow Funeral Home, 339 Lacewood Drive, Halifax on Sunday, June 8th, 2014 from 2 – 4 pm and Monday, June 9th from 2 – 4 and 7 – 9 pm. Funeral service will be held in St. Paul's Anglican Church, 1749 Argyle St, Halifax, on Tuesday, June 10 at 10:30am. A reception will be held in J.A. Snow Funeral Home following the service.

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