Bertram Hugh Murphy

March 23, 2013 • Obituaries


01/13/27 to 03/20/13

Christian, Patriot, Husband, Father, Grandfather, Oilman, Author, Adventurer

Bertram Hugh Murphy, the only child of Kimmie Irene Murphy and Bertram Smith Murphy, died on March 20, 2013, with his family at his bedside. He was born on January 13, 1927, dur[auth] ing a snowstorm in Ola, Ark. at his maternal grandparents’ home built by his grandfather, a clapboard house without electricity or running water.

In 1933, his parents moved from Eldorado, Ark. to California and Arizona where he attended public schools in Alhambra, Calif. and Douglas, Ariz. In the years from 1939 and 1945, Murphy worked part-time after school as a clerk, warehouseman, gas station manager and truck driver for his father’s oil companies in Arkansas, California and Arizona. This honed his strong work ethic, awakened his intense love for travel and adventure, and gave him very precious time with his Dad who preceded him in death at the early age of 46 in 1946.

Murphy’s mother was a very inspirational figure in his life. She returned to work after his father’s death to help support their small family. She was unwavering in her encouragement of his educational goals. Her courage and good character were pivotal in Murphy’s life-long motto, well-known to his family and many friends: Ride hard, shoot straight, and never tell a lie.

Murphy shared a profound dedication to the Boy Scouts of America with his own father who was his scout master. He attained the honor of Eagle Scout in 1941 at the young age of 14. He deeply loved the scouting tradition of honor, bravery and kindness. He served as a scout master and both of his sons, Mark and Matt, are Eagle Scouts. He took great happiness in his grandson Jet’s attainment of Eagle, uniting three generations of Murphy men under the Eagle Scout banner.

Murphy attended high school at Alhambra High School where he met his lifelong sweetheart, Martha Ruth Redding. Their first date took place on Murphy’s 18th birthday. He married his beloved Martha in 1949 after returning from the Army Air Corps to join her at Stanford University.

Theirs was a blessed partnership in every sense of the word. They spent 70 devoted years together, enjoying their priorities of raising their children; building Murphy’s businesses; dedicating themselves to service to others and especially to charities focused on children and education; traveling as far afield as Alaska, the Bahamas, Britain, Colombia, Egypt, France, Ireland and Scotland; writing books together; and, pursuing their passion for reading in their lifelong pursuit of knowledge.

Murphy was very patriotic and served his country’s armed forces beginning at an early age. Many family and friends served in World War II, and he never forgot the sacrifice of those fallen, especially his 22 year-old cousin, First Lt. James Matthews, a navigator who participated in The Doolittle Raid on Tokyo, and was later killed during the Aleutian Campaign by Japanese anti-aircraft fire over Adak Island, AK.

Murphy graduated from high school in 1945, serving as Senior Vice President of his class, and Commanding Officer of the High School Cadet Corps, a California State Guard Affiliate. In 1944, at age 17, he enlisted in the Army Air Corps at Douglas Air Base as an Aviation Cadet. He served as a non-commissioned officer until the end of WWII.

When Murphy returned from the service, he followed his fiancée, Martha, to Stanford University, where he majored in Petroleum Engineering. He completed his studies utilizing the G.I. Bill in just three years and a quarter, graduating with a B.S. degree in 1950. Martha and Bert married during his senior year at Stanford on March 21, 1949, at the Church of Our Savior in San Gabriel, Calif., where one of the more faithful parishioners was General George S. Patton, Jr.

Murphy’s commitment to Stanford University and his dedication to helping others achieve their education never faltered. In 1978, Murphy reorganized The Stanford Petroleum Investment Funds (a then-dormant legacy portfolio of oil and gas properties) with the goal of supporting energy and environmental education and other programs for Stanford students. Chaired by Murphy from 1980 to 1985, with a strategic plan consistent with his vision and instinctive business skills, the Funds have continued to thrive.

During college, Murphy worked in the oil and gas business in Southern California as a roustabout and student drilling engineer with Continental Oil Company (now Conoco). After college, with a number of rapid promotions, Murphy and his bride relocated to West Texas where Murphy served as reservoir and evaluation engineer for Signal Oil and Gas Company, Chief Engineer for F. Kirk Johnson and President of Waterflood Associates. Murphy’s career progressed rapidly and he became known for his expertise and knowledge of waterflood technology.

Inspired by his father’s entrepreneurial spirit and his mother’s determined independence, Murphy moved his offices and his growing family to New Mexico in the early 1960s where he built a number of successful oil and gas companies including Murphy Minerals Corporation, Murphy Energy Corporation and Murphy Operating Corporation.

He cared deeply for his many employees, and his four children and his wife, who over the years joined him in building his businesses. From 1961 to 1996, he maintained formal offices in Artesia, Roswell and Denver. He was a registered professional engineer in New Mexico and Texas, maintained a private pilot’s license, a number of professional scuba diving certifications and was a lifetime member of the National Rifle Association. He was known to throw a lively Fourth of July party with his 1976 Bicentennial Celebration being especially memorable.

Throughout his lifetime, Murphy was steadfast in his commitment to his country and he continued to serve his country in many ways. He served in the US Naval Reserve as a Line Officer during the Korean War. He was a confidant and advisor to senators, congressmen, governors and military leaders; Special Advisor to the Governor as Chairman of the NM Department of Military Affairs; Assistant Adjutant General of New Mexico; a member of the New Mexico State Armory Board; and, a member of the Defense Orientation Conference Association (DOCA). At his retirement from the New Mexico State Defense Force in which he had a leading role in building, he was promoted from Brigadier General to Major General.

Murphy had a genuine interest and profound love for America and the American West. He loved camping in the desert under the night sky; cowboy-ing at his ranches in Hudspeth County, Texas, and Taos; and, trail-finding with Martha out in the wild country. He wrote poetry and, by memory, could recite long ballads from Rudyard Kipling and Robert Service. He had a passion for and thorough grasp of many subjects — geology, hydrology, western and military history, astronomy and map-making, to name just a few.

Murphy communicated well with everyone, and worked hard during his lifetime to become bilingual, once addressing the Colombian War College Corps of Cadets in Spanish. He would spin spell-binding tales by fireside for friends and family. As a gifted writer, he left a legacy of his fascinating “trails” and stories in his series of books, “Trailing Louis L’Amour,” and in other books and dozens of magazine articles he authored.

Murphy was a loving and inspirational husband, father, grandfather, uncle and friend who encouraged his much adored children, grandchildren, nephews and friends in all of their endeavors. He lived his life by the golden rule and taught his children that, by giving, they were in fact the actual recipients. It was a wonderful and fun adventure growing up with Murphy as “Dad,” “Bapa” and “Bert.”

All of this made Murphy a very interesting man who lived an adventuresome and very full life. However, it was his sincere kindness, his fundamental gentleness and complete generosity to many who made Murphy truly loved.

Bertram Hugh Murphy is survived by his beloved wife of 64 years, Martha Ruth Redding Murphy; four children and four grandchildren: Laura Elizabeth Murphy of Roswell; Ann Murphy Daily and her husband, William W. Daily of Santa Fe; Mark Bertram Murphy and his wife, Susan Scott Murphy, and their children, Haley Winn Murphy and her husband Joshua Heard of Washington, DC, and Meredith Redding Murphy of Roswell; and, Matthew Bert Murphy and his wife, Annette Romero Murphy, and their children, Jet Romero Murphy and Jenna Rose Murphy of Roswell; two nephews: Douglas G. Redding and his wife, Jo Anne, of Boston, Mass., and their children, Katherine and James; Richard B. Redding and his wife, Kerry McDonald, and their children, Cooper, Finn and Christian of West Chester, Pa.; and his faithful Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Ellie.

He is preceded in death by his parents, Kimmie Irene Dukes Murphy and Bertram Smith Murphy, his grandson, Nicholas Murphy Millersmith, and his brother-in-law, James F. Redding.

The Murphy family extends its sincere gratitude to the many friends, physicians, medical providers and caregivers who have provided kind and compassionate care to our father and grandfather during his final illness especially: Julie and Mike Adams, Dr. Jay R. Bishop, Robin Ferguson, Dr. Hamid Ferose, Susan Gibson, Amanda Granades, Dr. Kenneth Leadingham, Karen Knecht, Dr. Evan Nelson, Arlene Ripley, Mr. Charles Shannon, the staff at Primm Drug, and the staff and caregivers from VistaCare Hospice.

Private Graveside Services with full Military Honors were held at South Park Cemetery on March 22, 2013. The family extends its sincere gratitude to Father Dale Plummer of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church and to the Military Honor Guard from Cannon Air Force Base.

Serving as Honorary Pall Bearers: General Edward D. Baca, Mr. Robert Beck, Mr. William W. Daily, Mr. Richard P. Gilbert, Mr. Joshua Heard, Mr. Robert Levisee, Mr. Donald Lewis, Mr. Harry Lott, Dr. Daniel H. Lopez, Mr. Arthur R. McQuiddy, Mr. Jet Romero Murphy, Mr. Mark Bertram Murphy, Mr. Matthew Bert Murphy, Mr. Roger Noriega, Mr. Douglas G. Redding, Mr. Richard B. Redding, Mr. Richard C. Taylor and The Honorable Harrison H. “Jack” Schmitt.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to:

Assurance Home
1000 East 18th Street
Roswell, New Mexico 88201

Boy Scouts of America
Conquistador Council
2603 North Aspen
Roswell, New Mexico 88201
505-622-3461 telephone
505-622-3493 fax

Stanford Petroleum Investments Funds II
David S. Gordon, Executive Administrator
Petroleum Investments Committee
School of Earth Sciences
101 Mitchell Bldg., 397 Panama Mall
Stanford University
Stanford, CA 94305-2210
650-321-9144 phone
650-723-9777 phone
650-725-6566 fax

Funeral arrangements were handled by Ballard Funeral Home & Crematory

Condolences for the family may be sent to:
Mrs. Bertram H. Murphy
Post Office Box 2164
Roswell, New Mexico 88202

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