Passing of Rae Murray

The Oakland City University community was shaken to find out that the former first lady of OCU, Rae Murray, passed away on Friday, April 26, 2024. 

Rae’s obituary reads as follows: 

Rae Arliss Murray, age 89, of Fosston, MN, passed away on Friday, April 26th, at Cornerstone Living in Fosston. A funeral service was held at 2:00 p.m. on Monday, April 29th, at Kingo Lutheran Church in Fosston with the Rev. John Ragan officiating. Interment was held in Kingo Lutheran Cemetery, Fosston. Memorials are preferred to Kingo Lutheran Church. Arrangements are with Carlin Family Funeral Service of Fosston and messages of condolence may be shared at The service will be live-streamed on the Carlin website and also posted for viewing at a later time. 

Rae Arliss Reierson was born on September 25, 1934 in Fosston, Minnesota, an only child to parents Arthur “Spot” Reierson and Esther (Ekeberg) Reierson. Rae Arliss was baptized and confirmed at Kingo Lutheran Church of Fosston and attended school in Fosston graduating with the class of 1952 from Fosston High School. While in high school, Rae was active in many activities and organizations. Her favorites being a majorette in the marching band, and a cheerleader for all sports.  

Rae Arliss had an extraordinary life. Growing up as a Scandinavian farm girl in rural northern Minnesota she was able to receive a college education, at a time when not many young women in her community had that opportunity. She attended Stephens College, a private women’s college, in Columbia, Missouri. Graduating with the Class of 1954 with an Associate of Science degree in Aeronautics. She continued her education at the University of Illinois where she graduated in 1956 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Physical Education and Health Education. Rae became an aviation flight instructor with a commercial rating and owned her own airplane. 

While student teaching in Illinois she met a newly minted career U.S. Marine Corps officer and ordained Baptist minister. Rae Arliss and Second Lieutenant James Murray were married at Kingo Lutheran Church on June 22, 1957. Together they traveled to duty stations across the country and raised two children along the way. One of those duty stations allowed Rae to serve as a congressional aide in the U.S. House of Representatives in Washington D.C. for Congresswoman Coya Knutson of Minnesota. When her husband was deployed overseas, she kept the “home fires burning” and taught physical education in the local schools while caring for her children. Upon her husband’s retirement from the Marine Corps after 26 years of service he became President of Oakland City University in Indiana and for the next 33 years she was not only “First Lady” but continued to teach physical education and coach women’s athletics at the university. Throughout all this time she traveled the world along with her husband, friends and extended family. Upon her retirement from Oakland City University, Rae Arliss received an honorary Doctor of Humanities degree from the University Board of Trustees in appreciation for her 33 years of service to the institution.  

After her husband James passed away in 2012 Rae Arliss left Indiana to return to her hometown in Minnesota where her life’s journey began. She had quite a life and she knew it. A commercial pilot and flight instructor, high school and collegiate physical educator and coach, Marine Officer’s wife, congressional aide, university First Lady, Baptist preacher’s wife, and world traveler. Yet if you asked her what her greatest achievements were, she would tell you simply being a loving mother of 2, grandmother of 4, and great-grandmother of 6. 

Rae Arliss Reierson Murray is survived by her two children and their families. Michael and Doris Murray of Fosston, Minnesota and Robyn Rae and Christopher Speltz of Austin, Texas. Her granddaughters Heather (Chris Kluge), Megan (Jon Hogg), Elizabeth Rae (Ben Gunnarson) and Olivia. Her great-grandchildren Aiden, Aubree Rae, Hailey, Ryan, Quinn and Colette. 

Services were held at Kingo Lutheran Church in Fosston, Minnesota. Interment was in Kingo Lutheran Cemetery where Rae was reunited alongside James, her husband of 55 years, and among her parents and generations of her family who have entered eternity before her. 

In addition, a memorial service was held on Friday, May 3, 2024, in the Provance Chapel on the OCU campusDr. John Dunn, Dr. Ray Barber, EddiMarie Julian, and President Dr. Ron Dempsey paid tribute to a live and Facebook Livestream audience.