NAA members also say he was an Auctioneer who served as an example for the profession. He was personable, talented and ethical, says Kip Toner, BAS, of Kip Toner Benefit Auctions, Seattle.
Murphy died June 3. He was 82.
Toner also says Murphy was a great mentor to many Auctioneers. He had a good sense of humor, which especially prevailed during benefit auctions, many of which he conducted free of charge.
“People could see his passion and people loved his sense of humor and his very, very gentle voice,” Toner says. “They responded to that, and so his benefit auctions were very successful.”
At auction, he was skilled at selling commercial machinery and equipment. Toner says he knew the assets he was selling as well as he knew the buyers in the crowd.
Toner jokes that he and Murphy would measure the success of auctions they conducted together based on the presence of local police, who would sometimes show up to request the Auctioneers help clear nearby streets of auction attendees’ vehicles.
“I was with him one time when he auctioned 13 hours straight … never took a break … some of the people were there from the beginning to the end,” says Toner, who adds that Murphy treated buyers and sellers with a great sense of fairness.
As a leader, many colleagues remember him for the way he managed the National Auctioneers Foundation as its President. They say he was instrumental in turning the organization into one that contributed to NAA programs, as opposed to one that the NAA supported.
Robin Marshall, of Marshall Land Brokers & Auctioneers, Kearney, Neb., says Murphy made the motion that NAF Trustees pay for their own transportation to and from foundation meetings.
Marshall, also a former President and Hall of Fame member, says Murphy was a humble person who displayed a sense of calm and made other people want to follow him. He focused on the big picture; however, Murphy also concerned himself with the little things — such as clean restrooms at an auction facility — that Marshall says made a big difference.
“He was a true leader,” Marshall says. “He raised the bar for professionalism of Auctioneers both in the association and in his own business.”
Dick Keenan, of Keenan Auction Co., South Portland, Maine, agrees with Marshall’s assessment and says the integrity and professionalism with which Murphy ran his business has been passed down through his family.
His son, Tim Murphy, CAI, of James G. Murphy Co., Kenmore, Wash., and his grandson, Colin Murphy, CAI, GPPA, also of the family business, are NAA members.
“He led with his billfold,” Keenan says. “There was never a cause that if he believed in it he wasn’t the first to contribute to. He never asked for anything back.”
Another former President and Hall of Famer, Wil Hahn, CAI, of Hahn Auction Co., Bath, Pa., adds that Murphy was a well-organized person who was always prepared. He was selfless in his generosity, never looking to receive recognition for his charitable contributions.
A member of the NAA for more than 35 years, Murphy was President of the association in 1994-1995. He entered its Hall of Fame in 2000, along with Keenan.
He also was a President of the Washington Auctioneers Association and the founding member of the American National Bank in Edmonds, Wash., according to his obituary.
He was a longtime member of the Serra Club, Knights of Columbus and Crosier Society. For more than 30 years, he was the principal Auctioneer and member of the PONCHO organization, which focuses on funding arts education.
Murphy started several fundraising events and spent many hours supporting programs for the homeless. He gave his time to the Lazarus Day Center, St. Martins Programs Advisory Board and Catholic Community Service Board and Fundraising Committee.
He served the Holy Rosary Parish in Edmonds as a member of its school board, parish council and finance commission, according to the obituary.
Murphy and his wife, Norma, founded James G. Murphy Co. in 1970. The company helped liquidate real estate during the savings and loan crisis of the 1980s and 1990s, according to the Puget Sound Business Journal.
In 1990, Murphy turned the business over to his son, Tim Murphy, and daughter, Julie Rice. He remained active in the business and conducted his last auction April 24.
He is survived by his wife of 62 years; four children, Lorrie Schlanser, Tim Murphy, Julie Rice and Jay Murphy; a brother, Patrick Murphy; and six grandchildren.
Murphy’s funeral took place June 8. Keenan says the 1,000-person capacity church had standing-room only. An Archbishop and 10 priests presided over the mass.
Remembrances may be made to Sno King Serra or St. Martins Programs, P.O. Box 504, Edmonds, WA, 98020.