Finance to Philanthropy: Bud Murphy ’69 Gains Pride in Textile Degree
By Stuart Hall
A few years ago, Bud Murphy received an invitation from the North Carolina Textile Foundation to attend a small luncheon that featured Dr. David Hinks, dean of N.C. State University’s Wilson College of Textiles, as one of the speakers.
“Normally, I would not have accepted something like that, but since I was retired and it was at the country club that I am a member, I thought ‘What the heck, why not go?’” said Murphy of the luncheon that was held in April 2017 at Brookhaven Country Club in Atlanta. Though Murphy, 72, made his career in wealth management, he graduated in 1969 from N.C. State with a B.S. in textile technology. Throughout his career, Murphy did not hide that fact as much as he emphasized that he minored in economics. “I don’t know if I was embarrassed about the industry or what,” said Murphy of the textile industry that long struggled with low wages and production capacities, then lost considerable U.S. jobs to off-shoring from 1994 to 2005. “It basically collapsed.”
So Murphy attended the luncheon unsure of what would be the focus of Hinks’ message. By the end, two themes resonated with Murphy: perseverance and purpose. “I was really impressed by a couple of comments he made about how N.C. State did not close its textile department when the business went overseas,” said Murphy, noting that the textile programs at both Clemson University and Auburn University were adversely affected by the off-shoring. “Also, I was very impressed with some of the things N.C. State is doing now, dealing with the military. I’m involved working with disabled veterans and it just kind of hit home to me that the textile department was developing nonwoven products to improve soldier capabilities and protection.” Murphy also left the luncheon with a new sense of pride for his school. To that point, Murphy had, by his own admission, been a sporadic low-end donor to N.C. State. But in 2017, Murphy began upping his donations.
On November 11, Murphy and his wife, Emily, were in Raleigh to attend N.C. State’s football game against the University of Louisville as a guest of the NC Textile Foundation. The weather was miserable, so the Murphys opted to return back to Atlanta early, but not before having lunch with Hinks and NCTF Executive Director Michael Ward near campus. Over lunch, Murphy informed Hinks and Ward that, as a result of a unique financial transaction, he was going to make a significant gift to the Foundation that could be used at the discretion of the dean. “I guess the bottom line is that I realized that even though I had felt in my career embarrassed about having a textile degree because of what happened in the industry, [attending N.C. State] did allow me to get a college education, allow me to be in the industry I was in and provide for my family.”
Murphy was born and raised in Atlanta. His grandfather worked and was a board member for Regal Textile in Trion, Ga. His father was an investor and, “he always implied to me that he was kind of the black sheep in the family,” Murphy said. Upon graduating from N.C. State, Murphy actually began a career in textiles, working for Tennessee-Eastman in Kingsport, Tenn. Two years later, though, Murphy was back in Atlanta and on a new career path in the financial industry. Murphy jokes that due to company mergers his “business card changed seven times,” but he stayed with the same company throughout and ultimately finished with Morgan Stanley.
Retired, Murphy now heads the Atlanta chapter of Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, which aids in the physical and emotional rehabilitation of disabled active and veteran military service members through fly fishing and associated activities. “We teach them how to build a fly rod, make various flies, and instruct them how to cast. Then we take them on local and national fishing trips,” said Murphy, who took up the sport in his mid- to late-50s and whose son is a fly fishing guide in Montana.
Murphy describes the intersection of his current vocation and N.C. State’s Wilson College of Textiles indirect work with the military as “serendipitous”. “It just really hit home for me,” he said. “The more I met with David and Michael, and visited the Centennial Campus with them, the more I enjoyed hearing what they were doing. I felt I should give back more.”