In Memoriam: Former board chair Martin D. "Pete" Murphy '52
Posted 02/08/2017 04:48PM

Martin D. "Pete" Murphy

Martin D. "Pete" Murphy passed away peacefully on the morning of February 8, 2017. Born on March 7, 1935, as a third generation San Franciscan and a descendant of the California Pioneers, he was a man of enormous humility, generosity, loyalty and humor. He rarely passed on the opportunity to laugh at himself or to make others laugh.

Pete was born and raised in the Marina District in San Francisco. He was raised by his mother, Anna, a math teacher at Galileo High School, and his father Martin, longtime President of City Title Insurance. He attend Ecole Notre Dame des Victories grammar school, St. Ignatius High School (Class of 1952) and Santa Clara University. He completed his strong Jesuit-based education when he graduated from University of San Francisco School of Law in 1961. In between college and law school, Pete served two years in the United States Armed Services as a second lieutenant.

During his school years, Pete was an accomplished scholar athlete. He played varsity baseball. He competed at the collegiate level in basketball. He also played collegiate tennis. Pete was quick to quip that he was "a great natural athlete".

Pete spent his entire legal career at the venerable San Francisco law firm of Tobin & Tobin. His primary practice was estate planning. He counseled many San Francisco families over the years and he was an active lecturer in his field. He also was involved in non-profit law where he represented many Catholic entities and charities including the San Francisco Archdiocese.

Pete was most passionate about his volunteer work for Catholic Charities. He shared this passion with his loving wife, Joanne, of 51 years. He spent countless hours serving on the boards of Several Bay Area Catholic organizations, including Hanna Boys Center, Holy Family Day Home and the Knights of Malta. To honor his services, he received a myriad of awards including the St. Thomas More Award as outstanding Catholic Attorney, the Alice Phelan/Sullivan Award from Catholic Charities, Alumnus of the Year from USF School of Law and the Christ the King Award from St. Ignatius. He was also loyal to his alma maters and other educational institutions. He was the chairman of large capital campaigns for St. Brendan School (parish center), St. Ignatius College Preparatory (large facility upgrade) and USF School of Law (new law library).

Pete was devoted to his family. In addition to Joanne, he is also survived by his three sons, Martin (Marie), John (Adrienne) and Patrick (Jenny), and grandchildren Milan, Sierra, Olivia and Luke. He will be missed very much by his family and by the many people whose lives he touched.

The family wishes to extend its heartfelt thanks to the compassionate individuals who cared for Pete at St. Mary's Medical Center and USCF Medical Center prior to his passing.

A Catholic Mass will be celebrated on February 16 at 10:00 a.m. at St. Ignatius Church, 650 Parker St. @Fulton St., San Francisco 94118. The Committal will be held privately at the family's request. Parking will be available in The U.S.F. Kendrick Law School parking lot off Shrader Street. Donations in Pete's memory may be made to the Martin D. "Pete" Murphy Class of 1952 Scholarship Fund, St. Ignatius College Preparatory, 2001 37th Ave., San Francisco, CA 94116. Donations can also be made to the charity of your choice . - See more at:

Below are links to several stories on Mr. Murphy along with text that appeared in Spiritus Magis: 150 Years of St. Ignatius College Preparatory, about this great man and recipient of the Thomas More Award and SI's Christ the King Award.

From Spiritus Magis:

Leading the drive for funds in the 1990s was Martin D. "Pete" Murphy '52, senior partner of Tobin & Tobin and president of the law firm. As chairman of the Board of Regents between 1991 and 1996, he made sure that SI would earn enough money to pay for the facilities it needed. Murphy, who served as chairman of the Genesis III: Building for the Future capital campaign, was aided by assistant chairman Jay Fritz, honorary chairman Al Wilsey and the entire Board of Regents. Before the school announced the $16 million campaign, these men raised $2.5 million from the members of the Board of Regents in 1989. "The regents came through because they believed in the school," said Murphy. "They made fund-raising easier when people saw the level of support coming from those regents."

Key to financing the project was a $7 million line of credit from Wells Fargo, secured thanks to Wells' Chairman Carl Reichardt, President Paul Hazen and Senior Vice President Paul Watson '57. Fortunately, too, for SI, the construction industry was in a lull. For the largest and final phase, seven companies bid, with Webcor turning in the lowest figure at $7 million, a full $2 million under the architect's estimate. Webcor finished on time and with no cost overruns. "We couldn't have built at a better time," said Murphy.

"When we started, the $16 million figure seemed like $600 million," Murphy added. "The school had never raised that much money that quickly. But we finished with only a small amount of disruption to the school, and we ended up raising close to $20 million, giving us a jump start on the next campaign to increase the endowment. I've run four capital campaigns in my life, and this was the best. We had a real spirit of optimism. Much of that credit goes to the SI community. People really care about the school."

Murphy could have stayed on longer as board chairman, but he believed the regents needed new blood and stepped down in 1996. The school, grateful for his counsel and leadership, asked him in 1998 to become one of the first lay members of a reorganized Board of Trustees, and he has served the school in that capacity and as a lifetime member of the Board of Regents since then.

Assisting Murphy through his years at SI was his wife, Joanne, who served as chairwoman of an Ignatian Guild fashion show, created the first International Food Faire and chaired the groundbreaking ceremony in 1989. Murphy is also proud of his long association with the Jesuits. He spent 11 years in Jesuit schools — four at SI, four at SCU and three at USF law school — and his three sons (Martin '84, John '86 and Pat '91) are all SI grads.

St. Ignatius College Preparatory

Courage to Lead; Passion to Serve

2001 37th Avenue San Francisco, CA 94116
(415) 731-7500
powered by finalsite