By Rowan McClean

Murray Chessell, who has enjoyed 48 years at the Rotary Club of Kew, is a softly spoken man whose intelligence, goodness and depth shine through.

Raised in Camberwell, Murray attended Wesley College, and then went on to study Law at Melbourne University.

It was love at first sight for Murray and Del when they met at dancing class, and they have now been married for 53 years. Del has been an English Literature lecturer at the University of Melbourne.

Murray practiced Law for 40 years. He enjoyed helping clients prosper, but laments a rise in the pursuit of financial rewards, sometimes at the expense of professionalism, courtesies, respect and integrity.

Whilst at Wesley College, Murray discovered gymnastics and was selected for the Victorian team at a young age. He went on to become the only Australian male gymnast at the 1968 Mexico Olympic Games and, in the mid 1990s, was appointed President of the Australian Gymnastics Federation for nine years.

Passionate about classical music, Murray became fascinated by violin and decided to take lessons. His children followed suit, two becoming violinists and one a cellist. Murray even made two violins himself!

Murray joined Rotary Kew, being near to home, through some members he knew from business. He viewed the club as thriving and well regarded, with a strong focus on social interactions and local projects. Student exchange was a bonding project as was the Club’s flagship project, Garden Design Fest. Murray became Club President in his early-30s, and says he has gained far more from Rotary than he has given. 

Working in the CBD, Murray still kept up the discipline of attending the club’s lunchtime meetings. “The weekly meetings with good friends was therapeutic, and I never regretted making the effort to attend,” he said.

In December 2000, Murray was awarded the Australian Sports Medal in recognition of his services to gymnastics, and in 2002, he received the Medal of the Order of Australia for service to the administration of gymnastics and to the community.

Murray was a very committed member/contributor on the major fund-raising team for the establishment of the Rotary Bone Marrow Donor Centre.

“I think Rotary is a great organisation. I love it,” Murray has said. “The introduction of women was positive and Rotary has modernised in many ways—rules, formalities, and attendance requirements now appropriately reflect changes in society.”

Murray now spends time outside Rotary with grandchildren and at a hobby farm at Melton.

Murray’s message to Rotarians is: “As life pressures threaten availability, involve members in activities they can manage.” He believes Past District Governor Neville John put it really well ”Expect of Rotarians what they can do.”