Dec. 22, 1940 – Feb. 25, 2019
Francis Joseph (Frank) Murray of Greybull passed away at South Big Horn County Hospital Feb. 25. Frank was born Dec. 22, 1940, to James Wilbur and Pauline O’Neill Murray in the family home in Graettinger, Iowa. He was the youngest of nine siblings. Frank received most of his schooling in Graettinger where he was fondly known as Toad by family and friends. During his junior year he moved to California and graduated from high school in Azusa, Calif.
After high school Frank served two years in the army. He did tours of duty in Korea and Germany; he was honorably discharged just before the Cuban Missile Crisis Oct. 12, 1962. After his discharge he returned to California where he worked a variety of jobs, including managing a family billiards center and delivering milk.
In 1967 Frank and a buddy headed for Expo ’67 in Montreal. Along the way they stopped in Jackson to visit a friend. His buddy went on to Canada, but Frank stayed in Jackson where he found work in construction. There he met Lynette Rison whom he married Aug. 8, 1968 (an easy date to remember 8-8-68, but Frank could never remember it).
Shortly after their wedding the young couple moved to Laramie to attend college but continued to summer in Jackson where Frank always easily found work. Their son Sean was born in Laramie on Oct. 7, 1969. The three of them moved to Greybull in 1972 where Lynette had been hired to teach. Frank went to work at Dresser Minerals, first as a laborer and later as a foreman. Their daughter Shannon was born June 22, 1973. In 1976 the family moved to a home on the creek near Shell.
When the energy industry hit a bust year in 1986, Frank and Lynette bought the Wagon Wheel Restaurant at the mouth of Shell Canyon. They knew little about the restaurant business, but hired some experienced, knowledgeable people who helped them turn what had been a failing enterprise into a whopping success. The Wagon Wheel drew tourists and hunters as well as people from all over the Basin. But mainly it drew the locals, many of whom referred to the place as “Frank’s.” Frank was the driving force behind the success of the Wagon Wheel where he cooked, bartended, hosted, and entertained. Frank never met a stranger. He loved to tell jokes, often messing up the punch line, which made them even funnier. Frank and Lynette sold the Wagon Wheel in 2001 and Frank retired.
Throughout his life Frank was a competitor. He grew up pitching for his baseball teams in Graettinger. In 1956 his Palo Alto County, Iowa, all-star team won their regional championship and traveled to Hershey, Pa., where they placed fourth in the National VFW World Series. That was the highlight of Frank’s young life. He continued to play baseball in the army, and for many years he enjoyed playing fast-pitch softball in Greybull,
Frank also played a lot of pool. For years he was known as the man to beat at the tables in Greybull. He was the first Greybull player to win the annual tournament at the Smokehouse, an event which draws shooters from hundreds of miles around. He also loved to play golf. One year he and his partner won the Security State Tournament, and in 1994 he won the Elks golf tournament. Frank also loved to play bridge with wife Lynette as his partner.
Frank will be greatly missed by his childhood Iowa friends, his many friends in Big Horn County, and especially by his family. He is survived by Lynette, his wife of 50 years; his sisters Thelma Best and Ivy (Jerry) Bortvit of California; his son Sean (Kyla) of Cody; his daughter Shannon (Vince) Gutwein of Jackson; four beautiful grandchildren (Caitlyn, Sara, August, and Iris); and numerous nieces and nephews.
Sometime in the summer a memorial gathering will be held in the Big Horns to remember and celebrate Frank’s life.