GRANITE FALLS — The bench faces a tree her grandmother planted, at the park behind the downtown Granite Falls fire station.
Dori Murry, 50, died from cervical cancer in 2014. Last month, a memorial bench was installed at the park.
Murry wasn’t into pomp, and neither is her family, so they backed up a pickup truck, got the bench ready and said a prayer, according to her husband, Matt Hartman. The bench is a reminder of how his wife dedicated her life: to faith, hope and love, he said. In a favorite photo of her, she’s holding a sign with those three words.
Murry grew up in Granite Falls. Hartman moved to town in 1993. A freelance photographer, he received his faxes at a local real estate office.
Right away, he noticed a certain agent who worked there.
“She was real. She was normal. She was genuine,” he said.
They started dating in 1999. They married in 2006. Together they helped raise each other’s children, five in all.
“I wanted to raise my kids in a small town. I thought that’s what I was going to do in Granite, but now I realize God was bringing me to Granite to meet Dori,” he said.
Eventually, they moved into a house on Lake Gardner. When Murry died, Hartman thought about obituaries that recommend donations instead of flowers. In Murry’s obituary in The Daily Herald, Hartman asked for help raising money for a memorial bench. Many people who knew his wife made a donation.
He ordered a kit and assembled the bench from heavy-duty plastic and metal.
For about a year, the bench sat on his deck.
“I couldn’t let it go,” he said. “That wasn’t what the deal was for all the people who contributed.”
He figures others will understand why it took time.
Eventually, a family friend told Hartman, “Dude, we’ve got to put that bench somewhere.”
Hartman remembered how Murry’s “Grandma Rose” used to live in the area that is now home to the park.
According to family lore, Grandma Rose planted four evergreen saplings there, decades ago.
Two of the trees are still alive, including one in the park. Recently it started falling over. Fire Chief Jim Haverfield had promised he would look after the evergreens, Hartman said. About a week ago, the chief had an arborist at the park, righting the tree.
Hartman still works in photography, mainly television commercials. He’s in his fifth term on the City Council and this year has been serving as mayor.
His wife was the most generous person he has ever known, and she was the best hugger, he said. Murry was deeply Christian and attended The Father’s House church.
She believed that people always should be working to grow and get better. She tried to live that way, and believed that by doing so, she might show others they could follow that path, Hartman said.
Now, when he drives by the park, he sees people having lunch and children running around, and the bench is there with them.
“It’s totally where it is meant to be,” he said.
Rikki King: 425-339-3449; firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @rikkiking.