Northern New York has seen many changes in recent years, but the regions dependence on agriculture remains constant.
The north country economy relies heavily on the family farms that produce food for local tables, the nation and the world. They are an economic engine but also conserve the land and enhance the beauty of our countryside.
We could not do without them.
A great representative of the agricultural tradition in Northern New York was Douglas L. Murray, one of the areas leading dairy farmers who died tragically in a farm accident Wednesday, the day before he would have turned 84. Mr. Murray, co-owner and operator of Murcrest Farms in Copenhagen, represented the third generation of his family to work the land and he inspired younger generations of his family to take part in the business as well.
Besides managing the farm operation, Mr. Murray was actively involved in the farm work. He was known to rise early and, in the winter, to plow snow not only his own driveway, but others as well.
In Times articles about Mr. Murray, people who knew him spoke of his compassion, integrity, pride in his family and his humble nature.
Dairy farming can be an all-consuming occupation, but Doug Murray also found time to be a leader in numerous community groups.
He was a member and chairman of the board of trustees of Jefferson Community College; a trustee of Watertown Savings Bank; chairman of Cornell Cooperative Extensions dairy commodity committee, and the American Dairy Associations District 2 vice chairman.
He also was an elder of First Presbyterian Church in Watertown and a board member of the Development Authority of the North Country.
Mr. Murray lived well by serving others. North country agriculture is strong because of dedicated farmers like Doug Murray.