Brian Hamilton: On cloud nine(ty) — Nevada County man skydives on milestone birthday
Murray Arnold had told me he’d be back in touch — in about five years.
The last time we spoke, he shared with me — and The Union readers — how he had celebrated his 85th birthday by jumping out of airplane and falling to the earth at 120 mph.
He’d asked me if I’d ever been skydiving. I had not. And I still haven’t.
But Murray’s made somewhat of a birthday tradition out of his new thrill-seeking joy, making his first jump to celebrate his 80th birthday and then returning to the Lodi Airport five years later for his 85th. So when I spotted Murray sitting in the lobby of The Union’s office recently, I should have been able to guess what brought him back by when he asked to see me.
On his 90th birthday, Murray made another leap from 13,000 feet.
“It was just still amazing, a big thrill,” he said. “To see that landscape coming up at you … it’s just a thrill.”
Too much of a thrill, he said, that his wife didn’t make the trip down to Lodi with him.
In fact, just as was the case five years ago, he didn’t let Marilyn know what he was up to.
“She wouldn’t go with me. She doesn’t know about it until after I get back,” he said. “She just watches the video and tells me how crazy I am.”
Murray doesn’t think it’s “crazy” at all that he’s still seeking such a thrill, and sarcastically scoffed when told there aren’t many 90 year olds doing the same.
“Really? I didn’t know that,” he laughed. “I thought everybody was doing it.”
Truth be told, Murray is more active than most his age. A veteran of the U.S. Navy, who served on an aircraft carrier between 1943-46, he long ago retired after a 35-year career with the Pacific Telephone Company.
But he just recently stepped away from 14 years of service with the Penn Valley Chamber of Commerce. In 1998, he obtained a black belt in jiu jitsu, which he said he’s studied for 17 years. He also continues in a supportive role with the Penn Valley Rodeo Association, regularly helping take care of the rodeo grounds. And not only did he drive himself over to The Union office, he said he’s still patrolling and serving subpoenas as a volunteer for the Nevada County Sheriff’s Office, which presented him with a lifetime achievement award following 16 years of service. Other than that, Murray said his five acres and goats keep him plenty busy around the homestead.
Before the end of our conversation, Murray confessed that he actually didn’t wait a full five years before making the jump on his 90th birthday. He said he celebrated his 86th birthday in the same fashion, when he found out some friends at the Daybreak Cafe were going to follow in his lead to the Lodi Airport and he couldn’t resist in joining in the fun.
“They asked me to go with them, so I did,” he said. “I guess seven or eight people have jumped because I did.”
Whether or not any others actually follow in his footsteps from 13,000 feet, after reading of his most recent adventure, there’s no doubt Murray Arnold continues to inspire us to live life to its fullest.
“Well, I guess I’ll talk to you in a few years, when I’m 95 and I do it again,” he said. “If I don’t do it sooner!”
Brian Hamilton is editor of The Union. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-477-4249.
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