Murray COHEN

Murray COHEN

It is with much sadness that we record Murray Cohen’s passing on January 2nd 2013.

Murray started as Manager for Wilkins & Davies at Puketutu Island Quarry around 1978 and was there until a few years ago.

Murray was an excellent Manager who was able to keep a pretty wild bunch of blokes productive and profitable. Even though he was the Quarry Manager he was never afraid of hard work and was often seen covered in dust and sweat, working alongside staff to repair plant, clear stalled crushers, or shovel spillages.

He had an excellent knowledge of all facets of the quarry game and was always willing to listen to new ideas, help develop them and support their implementation.

A few years after Murray’s accident in 1988, Peter Berry who was then the Quarry Manager at Puketutu for Winstone Aggregates, encouraged him to assist in the despatch office. At first it was a real struggle but Murray battled on and became a very capable at the role sometimes dealing with over 300 trucks per day.

He later became a key figure in the development of a ground-breaking site management system that achieved ISO accreditation – all with very little outside assistance. This system was compiled and co-ordinated by Murray, a massive undertaking that would have been near impossible had it not been for his knowledge, enthusiasm and commitment to the project.

Murray always led by example and was never heard to raise his voice in anger and was one of the most honest, thoughtful and approachable guys you could hope to meet.

Murray was a Fellow of the IOQNZ.

At the 1990 Institute of Quarrying Annual Conference (Palmerston North) Murray presented a paper “Restoration at Puketutu Island”. The paper discussed the Quarry Management Plan agreed between the island’s owner, Sir Henry Kelliher, and the 1968 Quarry Manager, George Cunningham to return the quarried land to good quality pasture.
Topsoil scalped from the crusher was stockpiled, while progressive layering (dump and spread) on the quarry floor with suitable materials was carried out. Regular surveying ensured that cut / fill processes attained the planned levels. Murray was proud to have been associated with the rehabilitiation process and was inspired by the efforts by his key personnel – Roger Jordan and Steve Withers.

Murray has been a regular attendee of IOQNZ Auckland Branch meetings for over 25 years, and we acknowledge the support and encouragement particularly of Peter Berry in the first 5-6 years after Murray’s accident to ensure that being wheelchair bound was not a disadvantage to his attendance.

Murray has been TASC (The Association of Spinal Concerns) President for many years, having been one of the Foundation members. TASC celebrated its 21st Anniversary in 2012 and Murray made a huge contribution during these years. He was a wonderful mentor to many newly-injured spinal patients.

One of Murray’s passions was mouth painting – a skill he fought hard to master. Painting with a brush held in his mouth, Murray rose above adversity to produce artwork of a standard to rival any able bodied artist. (On Christmas Day 1988, Murray dived into his backyard swimming pool, hit his head on the bottom and as a result, was rendered a C4/5 Tetraplegic.) However after many years battling adversity, Murray found fulfilment through his art and the art associations he is a part of. He has been an active member of the Mouth and Foot Painting Artists (MFPA) since 2004. Some of his work was displayed at the Manukau Super Clinic in December 2009. “It is great having the ability to spend my days doing something that I love and enjoy”, said Murray. In March 2012 he was awarded the people’s choice prize for his painting entitled ‘Wine and Cheese’ at the annual Bruce Hopkins Memorial Art Awards.
View Murray’s profile

More recently he was driving a van modified with all hand controls that was given to him in early 2012. That gave him his a real buzz to be able to get about and gaining back some independence.

Murray we feel richer for knowing you – a loss to us all. Our sincere condolences to Murray’s family.