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Christian E. Murray, former Black & Decker executive and marketer of a flooring business, dies

Christian Emerson Murray, a former Black & Decker executive who later headed and marketed a restaurant flooring firm, died of complications of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis Jan. 24 at Gilchrist Hospice Care in Towson. He was 60 and lived in Ruxton.

Born in Baltimore and raised in the Woodbrook section of Baltimore County, he was the son of Edward Murray, an attorney who owned Yeager’s liniment, and his wife, Frances Abbott, a homemaker. He was a great-nephew of Isaac Emerson, who patented Bromo-Seltzer and built the Emerson Drug Company’s landmark tower at Lombard and Eutaw streets.

He attended Gilman School and was a 1978 graduate of Boys’ Latin School, where he played football and lacrosse. He earned a degree in business administration and marketing at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff.

Mr. Murray met his future wife, Nila Stanley, when both were university students. They married in 1983 at Paradise Valley, Ariz.

Friends said that as a young man Mr. Murray attended a wilderness canoeing camp in Algonquin Park, Ontario, Canada. His brother, Andrew Murray, said his brother’s exposure to the lakes led to his lifelong love for wilderness canoeing in Canada.

“Chris had an adventurous side. He was a voyager,” said Andrew Murray. “In later years, when Chris went overseas for his business career, that experience served him well. But on these trips, he was practical. He never took unnecessary risks. He lived his life to the fullest and divided his time between his family, his work and his travel.”

Mr. Murray organized canoe trips during his working years — to the Seal River in Hudson Bay, the Nahanni National Park in the Northwest Territories of Canada as well as visits to Algonquin Park.

William N. “Bill” Blake, a friend from school days who later became his business partner, said, “Chris did have an adventurous side, but he was also a very good planner. He made his adventures work out well. It was a talent he had that served in later when he worked overseas.”

Mr. Murray joined Black & Decker, now Stanley Black & Decker, and held management positions in the U.S., Europe, Asia and Latin America. From 2000 to 2003 he was a vice president for Europe, Middle East and Africa for the professional tools and accessories of Black & Decker. He lived in Ascot, England, at that time. Colleagues said that he was part of a team whose members introduced the DeWalt line of tools overseas.

He later worked for Electrolux and Lutron. He worked at times in 44 countries, including his time he spent in China, where he scouted and established suppliers to Black & Decker. He helped set up plants in China where parts were made for products that would be assembled in the U.S.

About six years ago, Mr. Murray joined Mr. Blake and became the chief executive officer of JetRock, a commercial restaurant and hotel flooring business based in Edgewood.

“Chris was a marketer and helped come up with out name, JetRock, for a durable flooring that could be installed fast, as in a jet and tough like a rock. He also worked out our company colors, yellow and black,” said Mr. Blake. “We had a great partnership and had been friends since high school. We spent our summer when we were in the 12th grade running a house-painting business. His dad rigged up a Volkswagen hatchback. We were good at painting but not so good at bidding. We learned lessons in business together.”

Mr. Murray and his family spent time at a home on Weslemkoon Lake in Ontario, where entertained friends. He also enjoyed weekend home improvement projects. He installed his own ceilings and floors. He followed Maryland’s thoroughbred scene and hosted numerous friends at Pimlico Race Course for the Preakness Stakes.

“After his diagnosis with ALS, he told me, ‘I am determined to live with ALS, not die from it,’ ” said his brother. “He was an inspiration to us all.”

A memorial service will be held 10 a.m. Feb. 12 at Grace United Methodist Church, 5407 N. Charles St.

In addition to his brother, survivors include his wife of nearly 35 years, Nila Stanley Murray, a certified public accountant; two sons, Robert Murray of Baltimore and Ian Murray of Philadelphia; and a sister, Francie Keenan of Baltimore.

jacques.kelly@baltsun.com

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