Twenty-five years ago, a busful of Girl Scouts traveled down a Palm Springs, California road, killing four teens and three adults. The dead included a 15-year-old Detroiter named Tammie Ruth Murray, who had planned to become a design engineer. Yet, in many ways, she still lives, inspiring youths to seize opportunities and find ways to shine.
Tammie and the other Girl Scouts who died together on July 31 of 1991 were in a program exposing girls to new people and different ways of life. It was the perfect program for Tammie, a wide-smiling girl who loved to talk and had a three-page résumé. She was never content with a life of television watching. The Mumford High School student ice-skated, played the piano, sang, played volleyball, ran track, twirled batons, bounced on trampolines, combed senior citizens’ hair and painted their nails.
She also was a cast member and soloist in “A Vision for Tomorrow,” the Girl Scout Council’s musical drama/rap presentation about drug and alcohol abuse. Visiting California wasn’t her only long-distance adventure either. She had been to Tokyo, Japan and Washington, D.C. and was listed in Who’s Who Among Outstanding American Students. She received Girl Scout Silver and Gold Awards as well and had attended the U.S. space camp in Huntsville, Alabama.
Her sudden death was almost too much for her mother, Edna Murray, a former aide to late Detroit City Council member David Eberhard. In 1991, sorrow moved into Mrs. Murray’s house and acted like it planned to stay. In March, she was involved in a disabling traffic accident and was still struggling to recover. In July Tammie died. Then, three months later, Mrs. Murray’s other daughter, 18-year-old Jaynel, perished in a house fire.
How much pain can an already shattered heart take?
By year’s end, though, Mrs. Murray knew what she needed to do. She set up a scholarship fund to inspire other young people to pursue their dreams. Mrs. Murray and her supporters have raised money through Tammie R. Murray Memorial Scholarship Fund Foundation dinners, car washes and other events. The $1,000 scholarships annually awarded to youths have helped about 40 youngsters with college costs. One of those youngsters was Kia Jones, who knew Tammie and is now a teacher.
Meanwhile, a house in Mrs. Murray’s west side Detroit community has become a grassroots museum, showcasing the organizations Tammie supported and other major achievements in her short life.
“She had a wonderful life and had done so much,” said Mrs. Murray, who considers Tammie a neighborhood hero.
On Sunday, July 31, The Tammie R. Murray Memorial Scholarship Fund Foundation will hold a special 25th year anniversary remembrance program from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Tammie R. Murray Center, 14639 Birwood in Detroit.
For more information contact Edna Murray at 313-935-3863 or write to the Tammie R. Murray Memorial Scholarship Fund Foundation, P.O. Box 441492, Detroit, MI 48244.