The Murphys create scholarship
to honor man who built Bay Area landmarks
The idea was so obvious, that Dennis Murphy ’73 felt embarrassed he hadn’t thought of it earlier.
“While dropping my son off at SI one day, I suddenly thought of a perfect tribute to my father,” said Murphy. “He loved SI so much, that an endowed scholarship seemed an obvious thing to do.”
Together with his siblings and nephews, all with connections to SI, the Murphy family has started the Francis J. Murphy Memorial Scholarship and hope to have it fully endowed within five years.
The scholarship honors a remarkable man, one who helped to build many of the Bay Area’s landmark structures.
After graduating from SI, Francis J. Murphy ’39 attended SCU where he served as student body president. He returned from military duty to join Judson Pacific Murphy Corp, founded by his brother, J. Phillip Murphy ’25.
Together, the Murphy brothers served as the steel contractors for the Richmond–San Rafael Bridge, the San Mateo–Hayward Bridge, the Glen Canyon Dam Bridge in Arizona and the Coronado Bridge in San Diego. They also constructed many of the Bay Area’s freeways.
When the company was sold, Francis Murphy joined Kaiser Steel, serving as general manager of the steel construction division. With Kaiser, he helped to build the Bank of America and Transamerica buildings in San Francisco, the Eugene A. Doran Memorial Bridge on Highway 280, and skyscrapers in Los Angeles, Sacramento and Oakland. He also built deep-sea oilrigs off the coasts of Alaska and California.
Murphy used his expertise to help SI in the 1960s and 1970s during the planning and construction of the Sunset District campus. As a member of the Board of Regents in the 1960s, and chairman of the board from 1972 to 1975, Murphy helped to ensure that the construction of the new SI was timely, cost-effective and professional.
“My father was well-respected among Bay Area heavy construction firms,” said Dennis. “From the steelworkers to the people in the board rooms, everyone knew and liked him.”
Francis Murphy encouraged in his children a love for Jesuit education. His sons Patrick ’67, Dennis ’73 and KC ’77 all went to SI, and all of his children, including daughters Maureen and Geri, attended Jesuit colleges (Patrick went to USF and all the others attended SCU.) They, in turn, sent their children to SI, including Frank Murphy ’91, Brian Murphy ’94, Chris Murphy ’98, Dennis Murphy ’07 and Dan Bonnici ’97.
Francis Murphy was named a Knight of Malta in 1977 and three years later, SI presented him with the Christ the King Award, the highest honor the school can bestow upon an alumnus. He received SCU’s Ignatian Award two years later.
He died April 10, 1983, at 61. Now, each year, his family takes part in a golf tournament at the Olympic Club to honor their father’s memory. Dennis Murphy knows that this scholarship will be another fitting memorial for his father.
“The Jesuit ideal of the magis fits our family philosophy perfectly. My father and I didn’t call it that when we were at SI, but the spirit was the same then as it is today. Through my son, D.J., a sophomore at SI, I can see it taking root in him. He is committed, as my father was, to the complete development of body and soul, for the greater good of his teams and to lifelong learning.
“My father had every intention of starting a scholarship at SI, but died before he had the chance. My brothers and sisters and I are proud to do this on his behalf. It is the perfect legacy for him.”