Hi, Murray, it's been a while, yes.
When I walked into the Secondary office to have an interview for a position in ISPP and sat at the chair waiting for your call, being still confused – my old habit that mingling with the last-minute confusion when I wait for a call at the waiting area "What am I doing here?". This is from the nerve where I would never know but kind of habit since I first had an interview about 30 years ago. After I had a great conversation, I mean really good communication with you, quite confidently felt my habit will not come back for the next interview.
I think that was the first time and almost the last time to have a "long chat" with you.
Murray, I must say a big thank you for being always there and cheered me whenever I met you around the campus, "How are you Sarah?", four words were full of caring, concern, hope, kind and true heart. And I really thank you for being flexible of my study in Korea and teaching in Cambodia. Although it might be some issue for the community, you were so clear and trusted me to go through, saying "It's ok, Sarah".
One day you were with a group of students, laughed, enjoyed giggling and chatting around the Black Box, the whole area was full of happy noise, I really liked and felt that yes now I am in "school".
Thank you Murray, thank you so much. Blessings!
Like many, it has taken some time for me to be able to come back and share my memories of Murray, sending my thoughts and condolences to Sam, Sophie and Zach. Having only known Murray for a relatively short period of time since joining ISPP in August 2019. When I read down through many of the reflections, I was not surprised to see so many familiar thoughts that I recognise from my own professional and personal relationship with Murray. Those thoughts and reflections are a true testament to his authenticity as an educator, a colleague, a person, a husband, father and friend. Fundamentally, Murray was the real deal. This authenticity came naturally to him and was never, ever contrived. I felt humbled to speak at Murray’s service, and here I wanted to provide a memory of Murray that sums up so many facets of his character.
In January 2020, Murray (Secondary Principal), Liz (Elementary Principal), and I were off recruiting at a fair in Bangkok. I was conducting second teacher interviews, and Murray & Liz were conducting initial ones. In meeting candidates over a very busy weekend, Murray was always honest and transparent about what ISPP was like as a school and a place to work. He was kind and thoughtful in responding to candidates and never dismissive. Whilst Murray knew he was the leader of a very good secondary school, he was always humble and noted there were many things to work on and develop and that he was seeking to recruit people who would be a great fit, not just great teachers. We came away from that recruitment fair with 100% of the first offers accepted to ISPP from candidates with highly competitive offers from other international schools. Murray’s ability to make almost immediate connections with people from all walks of life was part of who he was. Whether it be a nervous teacher in an interview situation or an anxious student, parent or faculty member, Murray was able to put you at ease and lower rather than raise tension through his empathy in any given situation. I believe this is what came to the fore when also helping students and why Murray was able to make such a strong connection with our scholarship students and the development of the programme.
So on with the memory… During that weekend also, I had time to continue our conversations over a snack, sandwich, drink or dinner. Whilst being very connected in the region and being able to take the opportunity to meet up with former colleagues, Murray was always thoughtful to invite both Liz and me, making sure that we were not on our own unless we wanted to be. When we did have dinners together, the discussions on educational and life matters were substantial. Murray had the ability to agree without being obsequious and disagree without rancour, a rare skill and disposition but one that made for both convivial conversation and debate.
The last day, or should I say evening of the recruitment fair… we had all worked hard, put our offers out, and were waiting to see whether we would get any acceptances – an unnerving time – what will the outcome be? We decided on a quiet night with dinner at the hotel and then bed. A shout then went out for one game of pool across the road, and the next few hours were spent shooting the breeze and the occasional pool ball with so much laughter (I will hopefully be able to upload a photo). I remember going to bed and waking up tired, but with a smile. I am jealous in a way for those who have known Murray for a longer time and knew him more closely than I was able to do in the relatively short time that we had together. However, I want to take solace in the fact that Murray made an incredible impression on me, and to so many more, as someone who really made a difference. We miss you, but we are better people for having known you. Thank you Murray.
It's often the way for me that I seem to replay conversations in my mind, months (even years) after they happen. Just the other day I was walking out of your office and suddenly recalled a scene where you were giving me a hard time, something along the lines of you having more hair than me, even after the chemo. I just thought of a good comeback to that too…
Our few years working together seemed like many more. Our time was intense. We had no choice but to like each other, bound by the nature of our jobs and the need to get stuff done. But it was much more than that. I found myself drawn to your office for no particular reason but other than I just wanted to chat with you. I would often just make up a question or conversation when I got to your door, and spend the next bit of time just hanging out, before we both realized we should probably get on and get some work done. You were that kind of guy I guess, someone people just wanted to hang out with.
I valued the times when we managed to grab a bite or a drink outside of school. You'd always drop something about yourself into the conversation that I never knew. You had so many rich experiences and were supremely talented, but you were never big-headed, preferring instead to listen to others and ask deep questions about their lives.
As guys often do, we never got too deep, but when we did, you'd always give me some pretty spot-on advice. I already miss our chats. I will miss the silly WhatsApp messages and pics. Thanks for putting up with me over the past few years.
I hope that our conversations keep coming back to me. They will make me smile and remember a pretty cool time in my life, where I got to spend a lot of time with one of the coolest guys I ever knew.
Miss you mate.
I miss running into you around campus and reminiscing about our good times in Wanlong! I miss you every day, my friend. One of the best people I had ever met.
I have been thinking for a quite long time what words and messages I would like to leave here for you. It was very hard to control my tears even while reading the messages written by others over here. It was a shock when I heard that you had to go back to treatment, it was a great sadness while I heard about your final situation.
You were a very good person and leader, who had always cared for each of us, always supported us. I feel so so blessed that I had a chance to be working with you in Secondary.
Words are powerless to express my feeling.
We love you and miss you!
So I am finally writing this today… Life has taken me on a new journey (like so many of you), having to adjust to a new way of life, and therefore I have not kept in touch with WAB friends and colleagues over the last few years. This link popped up last month. I was shocked, to say the least. My first reaction was denial like it did not happen… However, I started to reminisce about my WAB days…
There is a reason why the universe has put people together in our journey and I am grateful that Murray and Sam came into my life. Murray, I remember how we discuss you "taking over" the admissions office (sounds so trivial in retrospect) and how chill yet thoughtful you were about it. I remember our admissions discussions, easy-going, hassle-free and straight to the point with always some laughter about an event or just life at WAB. Thank you for your professionalism, your collegiality and your down to earth attitude.
Sam, I'm not sure where you are in the world but know that you were huge support when I needed to talk. Love the no nonsense, no bullshit attitude… I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your sound advice and great laughter when I needed it… Lots of hugs, Caroline.
I have started my message to you so many times and I do not know where to begin. Every time I start, I cry, every time I read any of the messages, I cry, every time I talk about you, I cry and every time my boys and I talk about you, I cry.
Where do I start? I was lucky enough to start my teaching post here in Cambodia with you and Sam. And what a difference you and her made to my life and the life of my boys.
From many many drinking nights, afternoons and evenings at your home, to spending time with Soph, to swimming in your pool, to ‘encouraging’ my boys to play on your Playstation, to meals out, to time spent with Sam, to chatting with you in school, you were a huge part of our lives.
That one time, Sam promised me that if anything should happen to me here in Cambodia, you and her would take care of my boys, changed my whole life. I loved you both even more than I already did.
To watch you get ill, get better, get ill, still fighting and then to sit with you at your bedside for the last week of your life, totally broke my heart. I still cannot quite believe you are no longer here in body but you will be in my heart and the heart of my boys FOREVER.
Thank you for caring, thank you for your calm personality, thank you for your support, encouragement and belief in me as a teacher, thank you for loving my boys, thank you for your crazy wife, just THANK YOU.
I cry as I write this, I miss you as I write this, I wish you were still here.
We will miss you forever, love you forever.
I still can't believe that you are no longer with us Murray. It's definitely not the same without you. As so many others have mentioned, you will always be remembered by your huge smile, relaxed and casual nature, and always up for a laugh. We were lucky to know you. Thank you for being so kind and compassionate, the students were lucky to have a leader that cared so deeply about them. I will also make sure I watch my language from here on out 😉 Ha! Huge love to Sam and your kids, it's so unfair, you have gone far too soon and am so sorry that they no longer get to see you every day as well. x
Whenever you needed a home, a place to feel safe, or needed someone to listen and understand you, the Polglase household was the place to be.
You have truly helped me become the person I am today. When no one believed, you did. And I’m eternally grateful for that.
I knew I could always count on you. Whether it was a chat, a slap, or waking up at 3am to take my grandma and my family to the hospital after she fainted. The things you have done out of the kindness and sincerity of your heart is something I constantly strive for. And done with a great sense of humour, humility and honesty. His smile could shine for days.
Thank you for all that you’ve done for me. My unsung hero. You absolute legend. Love you Mr P.
All my love
At dawn the campus belonged to the Common Mynah Birds,
yet the light was already on in the Principal’s office,
the door of which was always open to anyone.
Earn phones in, on the rhythm of the Battle of the Bands,
you typed your kind words to faculty and staff,
phrases of a great educator and warm-hearted person.
Now at dusk the Battle of the Birds sounds a tune higher
to compensate for and sing praise to a light who has faded.
Murray, in all your roles you are sorely missed,
But in sweet memories you will live on.
Dear, Dear Murray… you are so missed. We both began our journeys in Cambodia in 2017. It is always nice to be in the same "cohort" as your admin because it changes the nature of the relationship. Murray, you had such a warm way about you that just made people relax and feel comfortable to be themselves.
And, in that first year, we got thrown into some crazy situations! Possibly the most challenging student trip of my entire career… Tuba Island in Malaysia. I was so grateful to have you there as we were forced to make it up as went along, avert disasters, and keep calm… while just laughing along the way to stay sane. By day three, we had already adopted the phrase, "I think we are done here", a quick glance, a chuckle, and get ourselves and the students out of whatever sketchy situation we were in.
I also remember the expression on your face as you clung to the boat railing and we bounced at high speed, the guide explaining, "we go fast or we will capsize." An ominous start, but we just went with the flow, and had a blast all things considered.
I miss you, mate, the school already feels very different without your calm and gentle presence.
Biggest of Hugs,
Mr Polglase will always stay in our hearts as a caring and looking-out-for-us person. His concerns gave us warmth and the motivation to keep moving forward. We will not forget the positive impact he had on us and the ISPP community. As gratitude towards his life that he dedicated to school and education, we would like to share our performance of Flute Sonata in E-flat major, BWV 1031: II. Siciliano which you can find in the gallery linked above.
Vortey and Hyeyoon
“When you die, it does not mean you lose to cancer. You beat cancer by how you live, why you live and in the manner in which you live.” The words of Stuart Scott fit Murray like Sam’s embrace, and help us celebrate the life and cherish the memory of our mate.
Two images of Murray will be with me until we meet again. The first is the Vice-Principal Polglase. If WAB is truly a family, Sam and Murray were Mother and Father figures to many a troubled kid just trying to survive. They connected with all kids; but Sam and Murray made the biggest difference in the lives of kids dealing with inner doubts and demons, the kids others couldn’t or didn’t understand.
The second is Murray the mate. The last time we saw Sam and Murray was a year ago when we took COVID refuge in Cambodia. We had dinner and drinks in their back garden, and the biggest takeaway from the evening was they were so happy together, so at peace with things. Call it countenance, serenity, tranquillity, or Zen. Whatever. That’s the image I share and keep; back garden peace of mind.
Murray didn’t lose to cancer because Murray won life. We’ve got nothing but love and respect for the man, and thank him for all he has meant in our lives. We send heartfelt blessings and love to Sam, Zach, and Sophie; and grieve your loss together.
ទំនាក់ទំនងជាមួយលោកMurrayជាអ្នកបើកបរTuk Tuk របស់គាត់។ខ្ញុំមានការសោកស្តាយនៅពេលលោកMurrayបានទទួលមរណភាព។លោកMurrayគឺជាមនុស្សដ៏ល្អដែលចេះជួយអ្នកដទៃនិងជាគ្រូបង្រៀនដ៏ល្អដែលបានចែករំលែកនូវចំណេះដឹងដល់សិស្សានុសិស្ស។ទោះបីជាគាត់កំពុងមានជំងឺក៏គាត់នៅតែឆ្លៀតពេលទៅសាលាដើម្បីបង្រៀនសិស្ស។ការបាត់បង់លោកMurrayគឺជាការបាត់បងមនុស្សល្អម្នាក់។ខ្ញុំនៅតែចងចាំលោកMurrayជានិច្ច។
I was sad when Murray passed away. Murray was a good person who helped others and was a good teacher who shared his knowledge with the students. Even though he was sick, he still took the time to go to school to teach the students. The loss of Murray was the loss of a good person. I will always remember Murray.
ជិត4ឆ្នាំហើយដែរខ្ញុំបានធ្វើការជាមួយគ្រួសារMurrayពេលវេលាពិតជាអាក្រក់ណាស់បានឆក់យកជីវីត.មេដ៍សែនល្អរបស់ខ្ញុំMurrayជាមេមានទឹកល្អចិត្តធំទូលាយ ជាមនុស្សល្អ គាត់តែងតែផ្ដល់ស្នាមញញឹម សរសើរនិងលើកទឹកចិត្តដល់ពួកយើងជានិច្ចMurray. Sam Sophie Zackខ្ញុំស្រលាញ់គ្រួសារអ្នកខ្ញុំពិតជាមានសំណាងណាស់ដែរបានអ្នកជាចៅហ្វាយរបស់ខ្ញុំ.
For almost four years now that I have worked with Murray’s family, time is really bad, it took away my great boss’s life. Murray was a leader with an open mind, he was a good person, he always smiled and encourage all of us. Sam, Sophie, Zack, I love your family, I'm so lucky to have you as my boss.
During my three years at WAB, I had the privilege of being a student of Mr Polglase and that he was my homeroom teacher. He was such a kindhearted and funny teacher. He always made sure that you felt at home at school, in the class, and encouraged you to become the best version of yourself.
You will be greatly missed!
I'll keep this brief Murray.
You were definitely "one of the good ones" as I have since described you to the people I've told. I knew you before I met you by the way your Samantha used to describe you during your courtship – I could tell your future was about to happen in a big way with this lovely woman.
I think we only hung out a handful of times – we jammed together playing Nirvana and Beatles songs in a garage somewhere. I went to your 40th as a 60s themed car salesman in my dad's rayon flares and polyester shirt with a blonde wig. Mel and I had a blast and rocked out to your live bands all night.
When you and Sam uprooted and went to Beijing, you inspired us to do similar and move to Melbourne from Perth. Stories of your travels and achievements overseas were spellbinding; so much done in so short a time.
As I recently expressed to Sam, our last catch-up in Perth – "I could've talked to you all night". I classed you as a mate even by the few times we spent together – it felt like it was always meant to be that way.
I've thought about you every day mate – I've thought about Sam, Zach and your precious Soph every day since you died. You were such a good man and by reading the comments on this page, you touched many lives with your genuine nature and willingness to give of yourself to people – to live well beyond yourself… to live for the other. Man… if we only had more time.
I'm going to miss you like a mate I had for a lifetime – that's how much you've left me here.
May peace be with your soul my friend – may love continue to surround you beautiful Samantha, Sophie and Zachary.
My memory of Mr Polglase begins with a smile and a greeting: "My name is Murray Polglase, you can call me Mr Polglase or Mr P if you wish" in his cool Aussie accent. Throughout my time at WAB, Mr Polglase has taught me English, math, and how to be kind to others. English was not my first language, and my math was terrible for an Asian kid, but Mr Polglase was always patient with me, and other troubled teenagers like myself.
I remember a time when Sanlitun was a place we students would frequent on the weekends (sometimes weekdays), and we would avoid bumping into faculties if we can help it, for obvious reasons. So when some friends and I were out celebrating on our graduation night and saw Mr Polglase and Sam, I had an instinct of just turning on the next street corner, but to my surprise, he raised a glass at us and said "come have a drink with us, you're all men now", and so we did, till 4 in the morning.
After that was one of my fondest and most cherished moments from my Beijing days; we took a cab ride with Mr Polglase and Sam to Tienanmen Square to see the flag raised as WAB graduates' tradition dictates. Some real-life conversations along with a few banter (correction, few real-life conversations along with a lot of banter) were exchanged on the cab ride. When we got to the Square, the flag was being raised, as was the sun, Chinese national anthem was playing in the background. And that is when Mr P look at us and said: "You can stop calling me Mr Polglase now, call me Murray. Congratulations guys". Murray and Sam were the first adults to recognize our coming of age and celebrated our new identity as highschool graduates. I will always remember that. Thank you Mr Polglase, it was an honor to have been your student.
You brought so much to Wab and to every place you went. Your deep and genuine caring for every students, your outreach and connection with all teachers and staff – everyone was special to you.
I often think of how many lives were changed because of your reaching out, helping them to understand themselves and, with your guidance, understand their own potential to be better.
Always, Murray, you were YOUR best and because of that, each one of us was better, too.
Your love for Sam, Sophie and Zack was complete – they were the center of your life. Your love fo music and joy in living was contagious – you lifted us and brought light.
We shall miss you always, dear friend.
I fondly remember sharing the math/science office at WAB with Murray (and about 13 other people!). He was an often silent presence in the crowded space just getting on with what needed to be done but what I remember are the fabulous one liners that had us all laughing or insightful observations that had us all thinking.
Sam, Sophie and Zach I hope your memories and the loving reflections of others bring you some comfort at this difficult time.
Our family has many fond memories of Murray – of his easy-going personality and sense of fun, his effective but grounded approach to his role at WAB, his talented and enthusiastic performances at Rock in the Park, gatherings, beers and conversations together at Fellas … Most importantly though, we will just remember what a genuine, great guy he was. We are grateful to have had the chance to know him and will always remember Murray with admiration and a smile.
Much love to Sam, Zach and Sophie
Petrice, Patrick, Haymish, Keegan and Blair Watene