John F. Murray loved the 15 or so years he was based at Veterans Stadium working as a controller for Nilon Bros., the concessionaire at the venue. The job became a family affair.

“It led to my mom and her sisters having jobs as hot dog girls at the Vet, which I think carried everyone through school,” said Mary Beth Schluckebier, a granddaughter. “His soon-to-be sons-in-law at that time certainly enjoyed the access of them all being at the Vet.

“I’m not sure if he personally knew any of the Phillies or the Eagles, but they were around all the time. I forgot the year, but my mom and one of my aunts are in the background of the official Eagles team picture that was in the Daily News that year.”

Known to friends and family as “Jack,” Mr. Murray, 88, of Northeast Philadelphia, a graduate of St. Joseph’s Preparatory School who served in the Air Force during the Korean War, died Tuesday, April 21, from complications of the coronavirus.

He enjoyed one more memorable moment at the Vet in 2003 as the Phillies were finishing up their final season and the games were being counted down on the outfield wall.

Mr. Murray was known for freely sharing his love, hugs and laughter.

“For every game, somebody would switch the number,” Schluckebier said. “We were there with my pop, and they picked a ticket at random, and his got picked. He got to go down on the field, as fate would have it after his career there. The Phillie Phanatic drove him around on the golf cart, and he got to change the countdown number. So he was a legend to us all after that.”

Mr. Murray smiles with daughter Jo-Ann Schluckebier, grandsons Matt Schluckebier (left) and Kevin Mahon, and the Phillie Phanatic. It was 2003, and he is holding the countdown number he removed at the Vet.
Courtesy of the Murray family
Mr. Murray smiles with daughter Jo-Ann Schluckebier, grandsons Matt Schluckebier (left) and Kevin Mahon, and the Phillie Phanatic. It was 2003, and he is holding the countdown number he removed at the Vet.

Schluckebier said her grandfather was “a jolly giant” who possessed “relentless optimism and joy.”

“I think he was a little unique in some respects for his generation because he sort of very freely shared his love, hugs, affection, laughter,” she said. “He was really the heart of our family and just very welcoming, too. He and my gram welcomed everyone into their home. The door was open to any extended family that needed it. He was everybody’s Pop.”

In addition to his granddaughter, Mr. Murray is survived by daughters Jo-Ann, Colleen, and Kathleen, seven grandchildren and one great-grandchild. He was preceded in death by his wife, Jean.

Joe Juliano