Christina Jahn Murray-VP
10-23-1947 to 3-19-2017
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After a long battle with Parkinson Disease, Christina Murray, longtime wife and companion of Michael Murray and partner in the Shelby Jones Company, passed peacefully in her sleep today about two O'clock in the afternoon in the residence she shared with her husband, Michael.
Christina was a true pioneer in the industrial distribution business. She started working for Shelby Jones, the founder of this company in 1967 when she was 20 years old. At that time, women were unusual in the industrial sales world, and were mostly relegated to secretarial jobs. Christina was more ambitious than that, and she asked Mr. Jones to teach her about 1/4 turn valves like Keystone Butterfly valves, and Dynaquip ball valves, Mission check valves, instrument valves from Hoke Inc, and compression fittings from Gyrolok. She learned quickly and soon she was selling valves as large as 24" and as small as 1/8". She also specialized in the Taylor thermometer line and thermowells. She used to entertain vendors when they visited with tales of her telephone encounters with male engineers. Many of them started with her prompting them with questions to try to find the ideal solution for a process application. It was not unusual to hear engineers from the biggest chemical and refining plants in the Delaware Valley hem and haw as she asked questions like "What is the process media?" "What is the process temperature?" "What is the process pressure?" only to have them stammer "Can I talk to a man?" She learned to be diplomatic and often handed off calls to male colleagues with less product knowledge than her. As time went by, the industry changed and female engineers, female salespeople and female customer service reps became more prevalent.
It's not at all unusual now, but in the sixties and early seventies, it was rare.
It was still rare in 1977 when Mr. Shelby Jones sent her to a Hoke training seminar in Kansas City. There, she was one of only 3 technical sales and service reps that were female, while there were over 40 sales men.
During that meeting, a brash, and younger, but confident junior salesman from Crown Controls in North Jersey asked her out to dinner on December 7th- "A date that will live in infamy!" and he had the temerity to stick her with the dinner bill because she had an expense account and he did not. They dated for four years, two years past that young man's employment at Crown Controls. In 1981 the Shelby Jones company lost the Hoke and Gyrolok product lines leaving them mostly with the Taylor brand of industrial thermometers. Christina, alarmed at this development, spoke with the boyfriend, Mike Murray, and he advised her how to do a ten year buyout of Shelby's control, which actually started in 1984.
The business grew and prospered. Christina's was the sweet voice of customer service for many years till she retired in 2009 when her Parkinson's was diagnosed and the stairs at the office building proved to be a challenge.
In the last two years, largely due to the loyalty of our many customers, and especially the loyalty of a terrific Shelby Jones staff, Michael was able to spend a great deal of time in the capacity of care giver and over seer of home care for Christina.
Anyone blessed to know her, knew her infectious laugh, ready wit, support and encouragement and leadership.
She will be greatly missed not only by her husband and business partner, but also by all who ever met her or knew her.
Rest in peace dearest Christina!