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Tom Murray, 54, of Folcroft, journalist and media leader

Tom Murray, 54, of Folcroft, a journalist and Philadelphia-area media leader for more than a quarter-century, died Saturday, Jan. 21, of a heart attack in Ridley Park, his family said.

Mr. Murray collapsed at a restaurant and could not be revived, friends said. The Delaware County medical examiner labeled the cause of death as pending until the results of tests are known.

The passing of Mr. Murray, an energetic, well-liked figure in media circles, sent a wave of shock through his many friends.

"So many of us will miss you," one friend, Carla J. Zambelli, wrote on her blog, "I had no idea when we spoke last week, it would be for the last time. The future of true journalism just dimmed a little."

His background in journalism stretched back to the 1990s, when he was a sportswriter for the Gloucester County Times and sports editor of the Burlington County Times.

In 2005, he became managing editor for Main Line Life under Journal Register Co., and then executive editor of Main Line Media News, a merger of the weekly Main Line Times, Main Line Suburban Life, and King of Prussia Courier.

In 2011, he jumped to America Online's Patch as regional manager, responsible for the hyper-local news posted on 12 Patch websites.

In 2015, Mr. Murray joined Digital First Media, which had become owner of the Journal Register papers as well as the Delaware County Daily Times, the Daily Local News, Delco News Network,  and Chester County weeklies, and was pleased with his role as editor, friends said. He also had broken ground for himself as host of a weekly public-access television show.

Philip E. Heron, editor of the Delaware County Times and a friend, called Mr. Murray a regular guy with an uncommon knack for news.

"In a business full of sometimes overblown personalities, he never lost sight of the reader, our customers. His desire was to serve them. Whether he was working at a weekly, small daily or larger suburban paper, he was always looking for stories that affected people's lives," Heron wrote in an email.

"At one time he was what we might refer to as old-school. But Tom's magic was his ability to adapt to the rapidly changing platforms we use every day to deliver the news. He was just as comfortable pushing the message on Twitter and Facebook as he was in dealing with print. That's because he never lost sight of the story."

Writers who worked with Mr. Murray praised him for mentoring younger journalists and for playing fair with the public in his quest for news.

Born in Philadelphia, he grew up in Folcroft and graduated in 1980 from St. James High School in Chester, Delaware County. In 1985, he earned a bachelor's degree in journalism from Temple University. His son, Ian, said Mr. Murray "loved newspapers and everything about the reporting process. He loved typing on a typewriter."

When not managing the news, Mr. Murray was active in the community. He attended countless fairs and fundraisers. From 1993 to 2009, he coached and ran the Drexel Hill Raiders Athletic Association, a local all-sports organization, and he also was umpire and referee for basketball and baseball games in Delaware County.

'He was a totally selfless person, he loved pleasing people," his son said.

For 25 years, Mr. Murray was married to Diane Samuels Murray. She died of cancer in October 2014.

Besides his son, he is survived by his mother, Elsie Polster Murray; children Michael Romano and Anthony; a granddaughter; four brothers; and his companion, Terry Hardin.

A viewing will be from 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 26, in the Frank
C. Videon Funeral Home, 2001 Sproul Rd., Broomall. Interment is private.

Memorial donations may be made to the Drexel Hill Raiders A.A., Box 102, Drexel Hill, Pa. 19026.