MISSOULA — Gary Duane Muralt, 81, of Missoula, passed away on Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2018 of natural causes.
He was born on Feb. 5, 1937 in Fargo, North Dakota to Walter and Nola Turner Muralt. The youngest of four, he grew up with his parents and siblings: twins Max and Marlene, and Maureen, in the space behind their small-town grocery store they owned in Litchville, North Dakota.
He was very proud of growing up working in the family store and meat locker.
Gary loved his hometown and after talking with him, you'd have thought it a thriving metropolis, when in fact, it was a sleepy little farming town of 300 people. Gary (or "Dolvy", as he was affectionately nicknamed by his family) was infinitely proud of his siblings and enjoyed the time they spent together, which was usually filled with playing cards, plenty singing of quirky family songs and endless laughter. In high school, he was a member of the school choir, band (saxophone) and basketball team. Gary attended the University of North Dakota, was a member of the Golden Feather Club and served as President of the Delta Tau Delta fraternity. He graduated with a degree in business. The day after his college graduation, he was drafted into the U.S. Army and served for two years.
On June 10, 1962 he married Susan Jane Rosscup at the First Presbyterian Church in Rolla, North Dakota. The couple raised three children, Sharla, Walter and Jeffrey. It was in Langdon, North Dakota that Gary embarked on his 14-year career with Standard Oil. This job took the family to Grand Forks, ND and in 1966, to the state of Kansas, where Gary was eventually promoted to Marketing Manager in the Regional Office in Kansas City, Missouri.
In 1975, Gary and Susan made the bold choice to move from Kansas, leave a secure corporate job, and to purchase a little bankrupt truck stop in Missoula, now known as Muralt's Travel Plaza. They took that little bankrupt business and built it into a thriving multi-business interstate hospitality location which still operates under the Muralt name and continues to execute on his legacy of great guest service. He took a genuine interest in his employees and customers alike. Gary and Susan divorced in 1998.
Gary was never one to keep his ideas to himself and he gave of his leadership skills to both business community and to the Missoula community. He served on the MCPS School Board, the Community Hospital Board, was involved with the Chamber of Commerce and was a long-time member and supporter of St. Paul Lutheran Church. In industry, he served on the Board of Directors for the National Association of Truck Stop Operators, was actively involved in Montana Motor Carriers Assoc. and was a founding member and key player in AMBEST, a marketing organization of independently owned truck stops across the country.
On June 15, 2002, he married Betty Andrews. Gary and Betty enjoyed spending their winters in Palm Desert, California where they golfed and made friends with people from all across the country. Their spring and summers were spent in Missoula enjoying their families, long-time friends, golfing at the Missoula Country Club and University of Montana sporting events.
Gary was a loving husband, father and grandfather who was active in the community over the years. His grandchildren all adored him, as he adored them. He hardly ever missed any of his children’s sporting events and was a good post-game counselor, supporter and challenging at the same time. He also had healthy expectations, modeled good work ethic and, in many ways, provided them an example how to be a good member of society and in your profession.
He placed the value of a hard day's work at the top of the list of valuable achievements. Gary had an outgoing nature and a genuine interest in the lives of most everyone he met, no matter of their place or position in life; making quick friends anywhere. He truly enjoyed serving people in his business and creating good relationships. He was also very thankful for all the people who helped him get his feet on the ground during the tenuous beginning years of business. He and the truck stop became the social hub for the I-90 & Highway 93 “Wye Interchange” area. Pretty much everyone knew and liked Gary...at least that’s what he told us.
Gary was a very determined person (some may have said stubborn) which helped him overcome some challenges in his mid-adult years and also turn his life around health-wise. In 1990, he began the process of losing over 100 pounds, stopped drinking and became physically fit; working out nearly every day. We are so thankful he did. If he had not, he would not have been with us for as long as he was. During this time, he also renewed and recommitted his life to Jesus and became an even more devote Christian while also becoming a more patient, loving and caring person . . . although none of this seemed to really help with his golf game.
Gary had a love/hate relationship with golf which began on the sand greens of North Dakota. He later became a longstanding member at Missoula Country Club, and after 2000, a member at Chaparral Country Club in Palm Desert, California.
As Gary achieved success in his business ventures, he financially supported many charity causes in and around Missoula, including causes like Camp Mak-A-Dream, Watson’s Children Center, MCT, YMCA, homeless shelters, food banks and countless others. In 1999, to carry on his legacy of giving back to and supporting the community, he created the Muralt Family Foundation. Each Spring, Gary took pride in presenting the Foundation scholarships to five deserving graduates at select high schools in the area. He took immense pleasure in celebrating the students and his ability to assist them financially in college. He would always come back from the presentations glowing about what great young adults they were and how proud he was he could help them (yes, even if the student went Montana State). To date, 85 Foundation scholarships have been awarded to students continuing their education at a Montana institution.
To help remember the legacy of Gary Muralt and what he stood for (the importance of family, supporting those in need of help and improving your community), the Muralt Family Foundation will provide a dollar for dollar match towards the Parenting Place’s Outreach, Education & Family Support program with a goal to raise $25,000 or more to help parents needing assistance. If you feel inspired to support the cause in Gary’s name, please mail your donation to:
The Parenting Place, 1644 S. 8th St. West, Missoula, MT 59801 and please include note for the Gary Muralt Memorial Match.
Gary's parents preceded him in death, as did his brother Max and sisters Marlene Brewster and Maureen Cudney.
Survivors include his wife, Betty of Missoula, his former wife, Susan of Missoula and their three children: Sharla (granddaughter Jadyn) of Kirkland, WA, Walter (grandchildren McKee, Mitchell and Olivia) of Missoula and Jeffrey of San Jose, CA.
His step-children: Kevin Andrews (wife Wendy, daughter Danielle), Jeff Andrews (wife Michele; children JJ (son Brantley), Joseph, Katie, Brennan), Julia Jones (husband Casey and sons Jamie (grandson Taylor) and Chris) and Gina Lapka (husband Sparky and their children Jarek, Jacob, Grace and Jeffrey).
Services for Gary will be held Friday, March 16, 2 p.m. at Missoula Alliance Church, 100 Foss Ct E, Missoula, directly below Chief Charlo school, half way up Hillview Way. Pastor Chris Flohr of St. Paul Lutheran Church officiating. Reception to follow on location at the Church’s Community Event Annex.