Martin Kearns Murray Jr. fought severe health problems from the age of 12, when he was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma — inspiring others through his grit and grace.
But even before he fought off cancer as a teenager, he was a boy of uncommon toughness, whether in the routines of joyriding on bicycles or in tussles with other kids.
"He was never afraid to go after it, no matter what it was," said lifelong friend Randy Bien, who met Murray the summer before second grade in their Petaluma neighborhood.
"I think that probably is who he was," Bien said. "And then when this illness came up, he just stepped up and said, 'No, you don't.' He always had that special fight in him."
Through their 45 years of friendship, Murray taught him, Bien said.
"He was stand-up guy. If he was in your life, you knew it, and if he wasn't, you wish he was," Bien said. "I learned so much about life and how to live it, just by watching him go through his life. Truly."
Murray died at his Rohnert Park home last Wednesday of complications stemming from the Hodgkin's lymphoma, and heart and lung problems, said his sister Teri Powell of Santa Rosa. He was 50 and battled to the end.
"The thing with Marty was he never gave up, no matter what anybody would tell him. He would get sad at the beginning, and then he would swallow it and get it taken care of — he never complained," Powell said.
He set an example, she said, "of never giving up. It teaches you to be stronger and be able to accept life's challenges and do it with with a happy heart and not blame anybody."
Murray was born in San Rafael on Dec 23, 1962 to Martin Kearns Murray Sr. and Judy Murray, both of whom survive him.