By Chance Murray
Legacies are woven into our lives. We are surrounded by them. They exist in sports, politics, education and business. They live and they breathe, and, just as we do, they grow old and they die. Legacies are being forged and forgotten each and every day.
My family’s story began decades ago when my great grandfather, David Parker Murray, enrolled in what was then the Utah State Agricultural College. David worked for endless months as a sheep herder in Cache Valley to earn enough money to fund his education. In 1916, David’s tenacity and hard work were rewarded when he earned his college degree and graduated.
Due to heart complications, David became unable to work, and his wife, Mabel, and four sons were charged with providing for the family. My grandfather, Bob Murray, recalls: “Life was tough. We woke up before the crack of dawn to fight the canyon wind and deliver newspapers as we were assigned.”
Bob survived the biting wind and eventually enrolled at Utah State as well. His education was filled with activities on and off campus: skiing at Beaver Mountain, participating in the Blue Key Honor Society and starting the “lighting of the A” tradition with his fraternity, among other notable experiences. Bob graduated with a degree in Finance in the spring of 1951. He also received the Cotter Key Award, presented to distinguished military graduates, which led to a regular commission in the Air Force and flights around the world.
Bob’s Cache Valley upbringing became a great strength for him at Harvard Business School, where he earned his graduate degree, and later when he started numerous business ventures throughout the Intermountain West. Bob has remained a loyal Aggie throughout the years and continues to give back to the university.
Two decades after Bob’s graduation, the family tradition continued when his son Pepper Murray, arrived on campus. After working for Bob throughout his youth, Pepper came to Utah State and found a love for biology, a path that would eventually lead him to Harvard Medical School. He spent many of his days in the science lab and in the library, but academics were not his only priority. Among his fondest memories were cheering for Leo Cunningham and the USU basketball team, winning the cow-chip-throwing contest during Ag Week, flying kites on the HPER Field at midnight and becoming a True Aggie with the love of his life on the “A” block next to Old Main. He graduated in 1982 and moved to Boston to begin medical school.
Business principles served Pepper well as he began his medical practice in 1991. Marketing, customer relations, profit and loss, overhead and capital investment quickly became part of his essential vocabulary. With a simple business understanding and some additional assistance from Bob, the practice wobbled to its feet.
Although trained for medical surgery, Pepper became versed in business strategy, something that has led to continued success. Now, in addition to seeing patients, Pepper serves on the National Advisory Board for the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business.
As the fourth person in this Murray legacy, I am occasionally overwhelmed by the accomplishments of those before me. Each generation has blazed a trail to provide more opportunities to those who follow, and the charge has been passed to each subsequent generation to reach new heights and explore new ideas.
My experience at Utah State has been filled with powerful and cutting-edge opportunities. Educational programs have introduced me to industries throughout South America and Europe. Dean’s Convocations and other events have placed world ideas at my fingertips through leaders such as Jon Huntsman, Stephen Covey, Ezekiel Gatkuoth, Mark James, Jim Quigley and Roger Martin. These experiences have brought not only new perspectives, but time-proven principles upon which successful careers have been built.
As graduation nears, I often pause in retrospect, pensive about the legacy I am leaving behind. Once again, a Murray will come and go. The future, with all its uncertainty, lies before me. But, with generations at my side, I am determined to seize the opportunities that surface.
Now, will this legacy be limited to four generations? Don’t count on it. With the caliber of education and quality of opportunities that are available to students here, you can bet there will always be a Murray on campus. As for me, I’m stepping out of the classroom and into the corporate world to continue paving the way for those to come.