Robert Murphy
1940 - 2017
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MURPHY, Robert Terence The family of Robert Terence Murphy (Terry Murphy) announced that he passed away on July 31st 2017. Born in Torrance California on July 11th 1940, he was named "Altar Boy of the Year" at American Martyrs elementary school. He graduated from Mira Costa High School, where he recognized that good ideas don't originate from anywhere - they usually come floating to you right out of a seemingly empty sky. "My job," he thought, "wasn't to find the ideas, but to recognize the good ones when they show up." Terry played volleyball and basket-ball at San Jose State University, which he called the "Harvard of the West." He remembered every basket he ever scored both of them. One was a rebound put-back at Cal Berkeley and a baseline jumper at USF, for a total of four points in his collegiate career. Cruelly denied by his youth from voting for John F. Kennedy, he immediately withdrew into petulant obscurity until he emerged from SJSU with a somewhat shaky bachelor's degree in English and a lifelong taste for for writing. Murphy observed that the had read many of the finest works of literature ever produced by smart people, yet he could remember little of any of it. He still knew all the words to "Louie Louie" and believed "Hotel California" to be the best song ever written. Terry was proud to be a member of the Theta Chi Fraternity. Terry held positions, from flunky to executive, for IBM, LIFE Magazine, Sports Illustrated, Progressive Insurance, Harte Hanks, The Dallas Market Center, and Southwest Media / D Magazine before starting his own company. He founded Streetball Partners in 1988 which was the parent company of Hoop It Up, the international grassroots basketball event that originated in Dallas in 1986. When Murphy sold Streetball in 2000 the company was executing 302 events in 27 countries. His partners included NBC Sports, the NBA, Doug and Chuck Jarvie, and Lamar Hunt. The fact that he was actually successful in the business of short-sided athletic events and sports marketing came as a surprise to Murphy. "It was never easy," he said, "but I never thought it was a huge risk either. Risk comes from not knowing what you're doing. I started playing basketball, rejecting my mom's old admonition about never playing in the streets." Murphy rejected "Murphy's Law", which states that anything that can go wrong will go wrong. His antidote was to ensure that what could go wrong in any future projects would go right. To Terry this included: (1) Getting stakeholder buy-in, (2) Identify risks, and (3) Don't make assumptions. One of the many things that went right for Murphy was his victory over Jacques Chirac, former President of France, in a free-throw shooting contest. After celebrating this Paris victory, Murphy and Chirac shared the thought that "You don't have to worry about the next day if you truly believe in yourself, and can instill those feelings into others." He wasn't a big drinker, though he liked his beer. He believed without question that one of the greatest inventions in the history of mankind was beer. He said, "Oh, I grant you that the wheel was also a fine invention, but the wheel does not go nearly as well with pizza." Murphy recognized the value of a set and in SPI he developed and nurtured a set of his own. Its members were a close group, a community, trained to work skillfully, arduously and with integrity. He tried to communicate as a person, not as a boss, believing that a conversation was more important than a reporting relationship. Walking the halls and around the events, he wanted the staff to know he was paying attention, to know how their world connected to the bigger whole. He held everyone accountable for each other, to live and die by each other's success and failures. Committed to hiring job candidates who matched their fun yet committed-to-work ethic, the crew believed you can't play hard unless you worked hard. Murphy hired skillful people who lived and breathed his vision. Today, many of his pupils now hold positions of importance in the sports/marketing field, a source of enormous pride for Murphy. Their motto, after punishing hours and more punishing training (drinking), was you gotta play hurt. Throughout his life he believed he had associated with the noblest people he could find, that the had read the best books, and had even lived with the mighty yet throughout it all he learned to live alone. He saw things through the eyes of his followers. He never said "Get going!" Instead he said, "Let's go!" And he lead the way, not walking behind with a whip but in front with a banner. He assumed his staff was working with him, not for him, and he saw that they shared the rewards. He was a man builder. The more men he could build, the stronger the company would be, himself included. He was a co-founder of the Dallas Sports Commission, and was on a variety of community and business board of directors, including Texas Special Olympics, SMU/Doak Walker Athletic Forum, the City and Regional Magazine Association (while he was Publisher of D Magazine), Bent Tree Country Club, The Greenhill School, Mayfield Country Club, Lahaina Canoe Club, Sitges Paella Society, Barcelona Sports Commission, Mazatlan Ten Peso Surfing Club, Theta Chi Fraternity, Central Dallas Association, Friends of the Seven Points Library, the Pamplona Jogging Society, and the USVBA. He was not on the board of Enron, nor was he ever in a bowling league. In the days before his death Murphy's life had a certain indefinable quality which he defined as "not having a real job anymore." He retired from Facebook a day after signing up, and he never sent a tweet. Murphy voted for Richard NIxon only once, and was uncommonly regretful afterward. "A man can't have an experience like that and remain entirely cheerful the rest of his life," he was heard to say. One of Murphy's greatest disappointments, and he lamented that he had many, was his in ability to know the difference between arugula, radicchio and endive. One of them was red; all were mutually excludable. He once asked a priest and and an insurance agent if an atheist could get insurance against acts of God. After college he installed a skylight in his apartment. The people who lived above him were furious. Murphy loved his Irish roots, though he lamented the transformation of Ireland from a backwater to a tourist trap. He last visited in the summer of 2012 with his son Doug and two granddaughters. Once, on a search for authentic Irishmen, he discovered James Joyce's, a faux Irish theme bar in Dublin where the natives "ingeniously escaped the tourists by hiding in the last place anyone would think of looking for them." For Murphy there were seven sources of civilization, and he loved them all: Jerusalem, Athens, Cleveland, Barcelona, Cedar Creek Lake, Dallas and Hermosa Beach. The year he lived in Spain in 2002 was where he refined his penchant for Cuban cigars and fine red vino. Terry always thought of himself as an over-the-hill surfer with Hermosa Beach roots, and was amazed to realize that he had lived longer in Dallas than he had in California (36 years vs. 28 years). He is survived by his three children and their respective spouses: Douglas Patrick Murphy of Brooklyn, NY; Erin Elizabeth Carlson and Arne Carlson of Frisco, TX; Cassidy Lynn Cline and Tim Cline of Frisco, TX; as well as his eight grandchildren, Gunnar James Carlson, Murphy Elizabeth Carlson, Eleanor Hope Murphy, Olivia Grace Murphy, TJ Cline, Carson Murphy Cline, Schaefer Lee Cline, and Macy Bella Cline. Also surviving is his brother Todd, who resides in California. Terry requested that in lieu of flowers, you spend the money on something sort of silly and fun in addition, of course, to his mandatory request that you have a shot of two of tequila or Irish Whiskey on the way home this week. Stop off somewhere and shoot a quick one or two, toasting Terry Murphy one last time. He would like that!




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Published in Dallas Morning News on Aug. 6, 2017.
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6 entries
March 26, 2020
I know this is years too late but in cleaning out my attic I came across a book that Terry gave me in 1985(?) with an inspiring message written inside. I worked for him at Fashion Showcase and Dallas Market Center. He was such a kind, patient mentor. I will always have such fond memories of him. (not to mention he let us drink Kahlua and Coffee at Fashion Showcase when we were on deadline ;-)
Norma Roberts Kass
July 30, 2018
So sorry for your loss you have my deepest sympathy and my prays go out to you and may you endure as each day passes by. 1corinthian 1:3,4
Genia Peterson
Neighbor
July 30, 2018
Please accept my condolences.
R.
August 6, 2017
Saw this in the paper today. I did not know this man, but this obit lets me know he was a guy I would have liked. RIP, Terry. I will drink one in your honor.
August 6, 2017
Betting on the SJS-Navy game. Loser would have to wear the other's sweat shirt.
Terry, Your friends and Theta Chi brothers at San Jose State have been remembering you on their independent alumni Facebook page "SJS Rat Line". Thanks for the memories from one publisher to another.
Patrick O'Daniels
August 6, 2017
May be the best and most humorous obit ever crafted. RIP MURPH, and may all your jumpers hit nothing but the bottom of the net
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