Charles H. Murphy
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MURPHY-Charles H., 82. Died at his home in El Dorado, Arkansas March 20, 2002. His wife, Johnie Walker Murphy, preceded him in death; surviving him are: four children; Michael Walker Murphy, Martha Wilson Murphy, Charles Haywood Murphy, III, and Robert Madison Murphy; three sisters, Theodosia Murphy Nolan, Caroline Murphy Winter, and Bertie Murphy Smith; and eight grandchildren. He was born in El Dorado March 6, 1920, the son of Charles Haywood Murphy, Sr. and Bertie Wilson Murphy. Charles Murphy is best remembered as an oilman. His father had him manumitted by court order at the age of sixteen so he could legally transact business for himself, and he entered the petroleum industry on his own as an independent while still in his teens. At the age of twenty-one he assumed full managerial responsibility for his family's business, consisting primarily of oil production, farming and timber lands scattered across Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. For the next fifty-three years (except for three years' service in the U.S. Army infantry during World War II) he devoted his considerable energy to building this business into an international oil company that has been active on every continent except Antarctica. It is now a public company, of which the family still owns some 25%, and it still bears the family name, Murphy Oil Corporation. It is ranked by Fortune and Forbes magazines on some of their various measures as from the 312th to the 370th largest industrial concerns in the United States. Charles Murphy served this organization, under various titles, as its Chief Executive Officer until 1986 and continued as Chairman of the Board until 1994. While building Murphy Oil, Charles Murphy did not forsake his heritage as a banker. He succeeded his father as a major shareholder and dominant force in the First National Bank of El Dorado, which later became part of a group of banks owned by First United Bancshares, which Charles Murphy served as Chairman of the Board. This group of banks has now been succeeded by BancorpSouth Banc. Additionally, Murphy was a major investor in First Commercial Corporation, a significant regional bank holding company, where he served as Chairman of the Executive Committee. First Commercial has now become part of Regions Bank. Less public attention has been focused on Charles Murphy's career as an educator and philanthropist. This is the way he wanted it. He served seventeen years on the Arkansas Board of Higher Education, where he was instrumental in beginning the drive to improve the quality of public education in Arkansas. At the same time, he was dedicated to the improvement of private education as well, and gave generously of his time and money in this cause. He served ten years as a trustee of Hendrix College, where he and his family established the Hendrix Murphy Foundation, providing financial support to the institution. He also served on the Board of Administrators of Tulane University, where he and his family established the Tulane Murphy Foundation and the Murphy Institute of Political Economy. The Murphy Foundation, established by Charles Murphy, his wife, and his mother, provides financial support to both public and private institutions of learning, as well as scholarships to enable students to pursue higher education. For his service in the field of education, Murphy was recognized with an honorary Doctor of Laws degree by the University of Arkansas in 1966. Charles Murphy's service to education did not consist only of serving on boards and giving money. He was active as a teacher and lecturer, without fee, on a broad range of subjects, to a variety of audiences. Examples of the breadth and scope of his lectures include: ``The Effect of Environment on Business Strategy'' given at the University of Geneva, Switzerland, ``Energy Alternatives for the Mid-21st Century'' at the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., and ``Reading, Writing, and Thinking'' at El Dorado High School, El Dorado, Arkansas. That he was able to deal with such a range of subjects is due not only to his powerful intellect, but also to the manner of his education. His classroom education ended with his graduation from High School at Gulf Coast Military Academy at the age of sixteen, but his education continued throughout his life. As a young person he was taught languages, philosophy, history and science in the classical way by tutors, and as an adult he pursued his education by prodigious reading. Charles Murphy is recognized as a scholar by other scholars. Mrs. Arnold Toynbee, widow of the renowned historian, once introduced him as the only person who ever changed her husband's mind. Charles Murphy's public service encompassed more than the field of education. He served his country and his industry and often sought to bridge gaps between different points of view. He served ten years on the National Petroleum Council, including as its Chairman. The Council was established by the United States Government during World War II as a group of leading oilmen to advise the government on matters pertaining to strategic petroleum supply. He also served for ten years and chaired the American Petroleum Institute Conservation Liaison Committee. This committee laid the groundwork for some of today's far reaching petroleum industry environmental programs. For his service he received a citation for Outstanding Individual Service to Natural Resource Management from the National Wildlife Federation. Charles Murphy served his industry through membership on the American Petroleum Institute Board of Directors and its Executive Committee and Management Committee. This group honored him with election as President of its prestigious 25 Year Club and an honorary life membership on the Board of Directors. He was also instrumental in the founding of the National Ocean Industries Association, representing many diverse interests in the use and conservation of ocean resources. Like other facets of his life, Charles Murphy's public service board memberships reflect a broad range-in addition to those already mentioned, he has served on the Board of Governors of the Oschner Medical Foundation, the National Advisory Board of the Smithsonian Institution and the Louisiana Governor's Council on Economic Development. Charles Murphy was at ease with people from all walks of life, from Presidents and Prime Ministers, Kings and Princes, to roughnecks and roustabouts and service station attendants, and he was invariably courteous and charming to all. He was a citizen of the world, with friends and acquaintances in every part of the globe, but he never forgot his roots, his friends included Sam Rayburn, Lyndon Johnson, H. L. Hunt (and his family), Lloyd Bentsen and George Bush, of Texas; Russell Long, John McKeithen, Jimmy Noe, and Bennett Johnston, of Louisiana: Robert Kerr, Dean McGee, Carl Albert, and David Boren, of Oklahoma; and Witt and Jack Stephens, Chesley Pruet, John L. McClellan, William Fulbright, Wilbur Mills, Oren Harris, Sam Walton, Robert E. Lee Wilson, Dale Bumpers, David Pryor, Ray Thornton, Jay Dickey, Bill Clinton and Mike Huckabee, of Arkansas. He was on personal terms with every President of the United States from Truman to George W. Bush and his acquaintanceships extended to such diverse contemporary historic figures as James Schlessinger, Lady Margaret Thatcher and the Shah of Iran. When he discovered an oil field on tribal Indian land in Eastern Montana, he was inducted into the Assiniboine-Sioux Tribe and made a honorary chief, and he accepted this honor with the same grace as he accepted an honorary LLD from the University of Arkansas, the Roughneck of the Year Award from the American Petroleum Institute 25 Year Club, and an invitation to conduct a petroleum economics seminar for the National Iranian Oil Company following the Iranian Revolution. He responded with equal courtesy and thoughtfulness to requests for advice from Presidents, Cabinet Secretaries, OPEC Oil Ministers, and the widows of former employees. Charles Murphy left his mark on the times in which he lived. His son Madison said ``The world is left a much duller place by his passing.''

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Published in New York Times on Mar. 24, 2002.
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March 24, 2002
-I am not a relative nor was I an acquaintance of Mr. Murphy, but I wish I had been. He was a wonderful gift to the world we live in. My sincere sympathy to his family.
Diane Scott
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