Murray State legend J.D. “Stumpy” Rayburn died, Nov. 8, 2012, at his home in Murray, Ky., at the age of 100.
“On behalf of the entire MSU Athletics family I want to offer our condolences to the Rayburn family,” MSU Director of Athletics Allen Ward said. “Stumpy was a treasure to our university and he was a wonderful man. All of us are saddened by the loss of our oldest alumni and good friend.”
Rayburn celebrated his 100th birthday last August and year after year, he was a regular at MSU football and basketball games. He often attended football practice and always occupied his usual seat at MSU’s Hey Coach radio program each Monday night at the Big Apple Café.
Stumpy Rayburn was indeed one of the greatest figures in the history of MSU Athletics whose association with the Racers dates back to the 1930’s. From a time when Murray State University (then called Murray Normal School) was in its infancy, Rayburn played on MSU’s 1933 football team also known as the ‘Wonder Team’. That team is still the only team in school history to go undefeated and untied. For a time he also participated in basketball with MSU.
Stumpy was particularly interested in the Murray State-Western Kentucky rivalry that dates back to the late 1920’s. He often told the story of when as a freshman, he jumped on a freight train in Murray with several of his MSU freshman teammates, and jumped off in Bowling Green so they could see the big game.
In 1979, Rayburn was inducted into the Ohio Valley Conference Hall of Fame.
Many Racer fans have asked about Rayburn’s nickname and how it came about. Stumpy explained it to the Paducah Sun last summer.
“I was a freshman in 1931 and the team needed some players (for basketball), so I tried out for the team,” Stumpy said. “There were more than 100 that tried out. Coach (John) Miller looked at me and called me Stumpy because I was only 5-foot-5. The name stuck with me after that.”
Stumpy Rayburn’s love of Murray State has endured year after year as his presence will be missed.
Visitation and funeral will be at JH Churchill Funeral Home in Murray, Ky. Visitation is Friday, Nov. 9, from 5-8pm. The funeral service is Saturday, Nov. 10, at 2:00 p.m.