When Richard T. Murphy, Jr. passed away on July 4, 2019, he left an amazing legacy on many fronts: a fulfilling career in landscape architecture, including 25 years of teaching; close to three decades as a successful entrepreneur and business leader of Murphy Logistics Solutions, a fourth-generation family owned business; and his role as an optimistic and dedicated environmental advocate and highly regarded logistics industry and community leader.
A popular speaker to industry, business and education audiences, Richard shared how warehousing and logistics had an environmental footprint of five billion square feet under roof – or enough to create a four-foot walkway between the Earth and moon, he was fond of pointing out. Richard built the case that these roofs were a perfect setting for solar panels and installed them on his warehouses as an example, tracking the ROI along the way. He also regularly shared how 25+ years of tending native prairies around his warehouses, saved more than $1 million – and counting.
He and his company have been the recipients of many awards and recognition. Most recently, Richard was honored as a 2019 Entrepreneur of the Year – Heartland Finalist. In 2016, he was honored as one of the 10 inaugural members of the "Most Admired CEOs" in Minnesota by Mpls. / St. Paul Business Journal. He also was esteemed as a member of the first class of "50 Over 50 Most Accomplished and Inspiring Minnesotans" by AARP & Pollen. In 2015, Richard was awarded the University of Minnesota's Distinguished Alumni Award, and in November 2014, he was inducted into the College of Fellows of The American Society of Landscape Architects, the society’s highest honor. He also received the American Society of Landscape Architects – Minnesota Chapter's 2006 Public Service and 2013 Lob Pine Awards. His contributions as an adjunct professor in landscape architecture at the University of Minnesota College of Design were also recognized with the 2005 Distinguished Teaching Award.
Richard loved rock 'n' roll; he was a frequent concert-goer and his office was filled with memorabilia from the early days of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. He enjoyed international travel and photographing his experiences. He loved spending time with his four children. His first granddaughter, Frances, was especially bringing him joy in his last days. He had just bought her a swing to put up in his backyard.
Ever the optimist, Richard dreamed of making a difference and he did for so many people, from his long-term employees to his landscape architecture students to industry colleagues and the many friends he made along the way. His letters and emails always were signed with the closing, "Warm Regards, Richard" – and you knew he meant that sincerely.
Richard always hoped that his pioneering sustainability efforts would catch on – and they did. Drawing on his rich background, he understood the importance of solving a problem, creating a vision, and then showing others how they could do the same. He once said, "I think it's important to spread the gospel–here's a little company doing these things. If we can do it, they can do it.
"And if everyone would do it, the world would be a better place."