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James H. Murray, D.D.S.

March 3, 2022

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Dr. James Hamilton Murray, a retired professor of dentistry at Howard University, died March 3. He was 88.

The Washington native was the youngest of six children of Sadie Jenevia Murray and the Rev. Chasteen Theophilus (C.T.) Murray, the pastor of Vermont Avenue Baptist Church for four decades from 1929-1969.

Dr. Murray, affectionately known as “Ham” was a consummate preacher’s kid. He learned many valuable lessons through his father’s work. He often referenced being a young boy, riding in the back of the hearse on the way to attending funerals with his father as an example of compassionate service.

Ham graduated from the academically elite Dunbar High School, the first high school to serve African-Americans in United States. He then headed to Howard University, where he graduated with a bachelor’s in zoology and psychology in 1956. That’s where he met the love of his life, Joan Carson Young, a Chicago native.

Ham’s first gifts to Joanie were a Bible and an umbrella, both symbolic of a relationship grounded in faith and Ham’s desire to protect his love from life’s many storms.

The two married on June 22, 1957.  The young couple’s nuptials were featured in Jet Magazine.

Ham continued to Meharry Medical School where he studied dentistry, graduating at the top of his class in 1960. The young couple moved to Sacramento, California where Ham joined the US Air Force Dental Corps as an oral surgeon.

Ham was Project Director at Meharry’s Matthew Walker Health Center in Nashville, and the Dental Director at the Shaw Community Health Project Clinic in Washington, D.C.

At 29 years old, he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. As he did with all of life’s challenges, he was determined, with Joanie’s support, to move past any limitations.

He continued his education. In 1969, he received his Master’s in Public Health in Comprehensive Health Planning and Administration from Johns Hopkins.

Instead of a career as a practicing dentist, he became a beloved professor of Dentistry at his alma mater, Howard University. He retired from Howard University in 1992 as Director of Patient Assignment and Records. His two daughters, Christina Murray and Michelle Murray both graduated from Howard University.

After 48 years of marriage, Ham lost his beloved wife in April 2005. He grieved but continued to live his best life with his daughters and friends.

When Ham made friends, he kept them for a lifetime. In his senior years, he enjoyed the company of the “Lunch Bunch” and the “Fun Bunch,” made up of Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity brothers, former classmates from Meharry and Howard and childhood buddies. The men met regularly at Ham’s Shepherd Park home to trade stories and enjoy each other’s company. If you knew Ham, you knew he always had stories to tell, and why not – he lived a well-rounded life.

He is survived by his loving and daughters, Christina Renee Murray and Michelle Murray Gee; his son-in-law, Shawn Gee; and grandchildren, Sean Hamilton Gee, Naomi Jasmine Gee and Evan Marcel Gee. He also has surviving nephews, nieces, godchildren and friends. He was the be-loved widow of Joan Young Murray.


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April 2, 2022

10:30 AM to 11:00 AM
Vermont Avenue Baptist Church
1630 Vermont Avenue N.W.
Washington, DC 20009

Homegoing Celebration
April 2, 2022

11:00 AM
Vermont Avenue Baptist Church
1630 Vermont Avenue N.W.
Washington, DC 20009

Interment following funeral service
April 2, 2022

Lincoln Memorial Cemetery
4001 Suitland Road
Suitland, MD 20746

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