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WRD Director Willard H. Murray, Jr. Passes Away

December 21, 2021

HMG-CN has been told that Water Replenishment District of Southern California’s Director Willard H. Murray, Jr. passed away last night.

Elected to the WRD Board of Directors in 1998, Director Murray has spent over two decades as a member of the governing body of the WRD.

Murray has served as WRD Board President, Vice President, Secretary, and Treasurer.

Murray represented WRD’s Division One, which includes the cities of Hawthorne, Inglewood, and portions of Los Angeles. Murray also served as a member of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California Board of Directors.

“We have lost a beloved member of the WRD family,” WRD Board President John Allen said. “During Willard’s tenure, WRD built recycled water plants in Long Beach and Pico Rivera, a desalter in Torrance, and many facilities throughout the district to remediate contaminated groundwater. He was an early champion and advocate of WRD’s Water Independence Now (WIN) initiative to eliminate reliance on imported water to meet the district’s replenishment needs.

He supported cost-effective projects and programs to ensure a reliable source of clean, safe, affordable water for residents in the region. He was an early adopter and champion of WRD’s Water Independence Now program (WIN) to make south Los Angeles County independent of water imported from Northern California and the Colorado River.

“Willard was a big part of WRD’s history,” Director Rob Katherman added, “and the benefits of his service will be part of his legacy for years to come. “But his service to Los Angeles and the region goes back to the 1960s when Willard was an early and forceful civil rights advocate who became the first African American to serve in the administration of Mayor Sam Yorty. That is a part of his legacy we should not forget.”

“Willard was more than a colleague to me,” Director Sergio Calderon said. “He was a friend and mentor who taught me a lot about the water world and WRD’s place in it. His passing is a loss for WRD and the region. I will always treasure the memories of his friendship.”

A veteran public servant, Murray was a four-term Assemblymember for the 52nd Assembly District. During his tenure in the Assembly, he was a member of the Committees on Budget, Local Government, Utilities & Commerce and Education. He served on the Budget Subcommittee on Education, Finance, Select Committees on California-Africa and California-Mexico Affairs, and the Joint Committee on the Arts. He also chaired the Budget Subcommittee on State Administration.

“For over 35 years Willard was a trusted friend and colleague,” Director Vera Robles DeWitt said. “One thing to know is that he was a stickler for proper parliamentary procedure, often reminding colleagues in a friendly way of the finer points of Robert’s Rules of Order. We will miss his sense of humor and outsized presence on the board.”