Master Sergeant Murray Dean Kidwell
Retired USAF Master Sergeant Murray Dean Kidwell, 81, of Crossville, died Veteran's Day, Nov. 11, 2019, after a brief illness and stay at Life Care Center of Crossville.
Murray was born June 27, 1938, a second-generation Cumberland Homesteader, son of the late Zollie Earl Kidwell and Hedy Mae (Bryant) Kidwell. He graduated from Cumberland County High School and went on to active military service with the United States Air Force Band, performing in 48 U.S. states, Europe, Asia and Africa in more than 8,000 concerts. Concerts included performances with the Berlin Philharmonic and the Paris Opera Orchestra and in such esteemed concert halls as Westminster Abbey and the Mozarteum in Salzburg. Murray's principal instruments were the flute and piccolo. In the mid-1970s, Murray received a commendation from the U.S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union for his public relations work with the Air Force Band.
While in the service, Murray attended the University of Tennessee where he met his wife, Evangeline (Connelly), who preceded him in death by less than five months. He went on to earn a Bachelor of Arts in education from Buena Vista College and a Bachelor of Science in urban studies from the University of Nebraska at Omaha.
After retiring from the Air Force in 1980, Murray obtained his master's degree in educational psychology from Ball State University. Upon returning to his home community, Murray taught history, art and band in Cumberland County schools. He was an accomplished artist as well as a musician. One of his lasting contributions to his community was his founding and directing of the Cumberland County Community Band in 2000, an organization still vital to the cultural community. For his work with the community band, his commitment to veterans, and other public service causes, Murray was named Humanitarian of the Year by the Business and Professional Women.
In addition, Murray and his wife could be found performing on the stage of the Cumberland County Playhouse where they made life-long friends and never wavered in their support and joy of live theatre. Murray could also be found in the orchestra of several productions.
At Murray's request there will be no formal memorial service. He did request that anyone so inclined make donations to the Cumberland County Community Band or the Cumberland County Playhouse in his memory.
He is survived by nieces and nephews, Mark Kidwell, Laura Kidwell, Michael Kidwell and Joanna Funkhouser; great-niece, Amanda McClain; and Ariel Safdie, who was like a daughter to Murray and Evangeline.
In addition to his wife and parents, Murray is preceded in death by his siblings, Zollie Earl Kidwell Jr., Lloyd Gene Kidwell, Joanna Joyce Walker and Janice Kay Smith; and niece, Linda Kidwell.
Bilbrey Funeral Home, Inc. is in charge of arrangements.
Published on November 19, 2019


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James E. Copeland
Nov 22, 2019
Murray was a talented musician, teacher, and my friend. The impact his life made on the community will be appreciated and remembered by all who knew him.
Donna Sparks
Nov 21, 2019
Mr. Kidwell was my History teacher at North Cumberland Elementary School. He was my favorite teacher . Many years later I got the privilege to know him better when I started mowing his yard . And when I met his wife Eve she was such a blessing . I could talk to them for hours . I have never met a nicer couple . I mowed for them for many years , but this year I didn’t have the pleasure to do that . I will miss him and wife .
Tommy Goodwin
Nov 20, 2019
Farewell Murray from an old friend going back to our CCHS band days. Not surprisingly, your many accomplishments are impressive and admirable. But then, I'm not the least bit surprised.
RIP, my friend.
Michael & Deanna Kidwell
Nov 20, 2019
Thank you for honoring his life here on earth. We love you Uncle Murray, sending hugs to heaven.
Mark & Sharon Kidwell
Nov 20, 2019
My memories of my Uncle Murray and his wife Aunt Eve are way too many to share all, but I will say my childhood memories of the holidays (Christmas & Thanksgiving) stand out as the best of them. Even when Murray and Eve lived abroad (in Germany mainly) they most years flew back to Tennessee to spend the holidays with family. My folks hosted our family Thanksgiving and Christmas, where many of the years all of my dad's family (including both their parents, dad's brothers and sisters, and my cousins would come from far and wide) came for at least dinner, if not the giving of gifts in the family room from under the tree on Christmas. Some of the best gifts I received as a child were giving to m...e from my Uncle Murray and Aunt Eve.. Many where things made in Germany (like one special Nutcracker among other things), but some where gifts of books, but there was a couple of cool toys too. I grew up going to the Cumberland Mtn State Park (back when you could rent swim suits and swim in the lake), and still visit there often for lunch or dinner. My wife first met Murray and Eve when we ran into while there to eat lunch, we ended up sitting with them to eat, and thru the years ate with them several more times. Our last time to visit with Murray began with meeting for lunch at the park (Labor Day Weekend), then on to his house to catch up on old times. He always had the most wonderful stories, and always shared so much family history. We will miss both Uncle Murray and Aunt Eve, but we know you are back together, and with all your friends and family that have passed on before you.
RIP my favorite Uncle, will love you forever.!!
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