Milton Murray, Adventist
Philanthropy Pioneer, Dies
Church's philanthropic organization founder “set standard of excellence.”
BY MEGAN BRAUNER, Adventist News Network
ilton J. Murray, long-time philanthropist, mentor and founder of charitable organizations throughout North and South America, died December 9 in a care facility in Loma Linda, California. He was 87.
Murray founded the philanthropy program of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, Philanthropic Service for Institutions (PSI), in the 1970s and served as its director for 20 years. The organization is based at the church's world headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland.
Murray received the highest honor bestowed by the Association of Healthcare Philanthropy, the Si Seymour Award, in 1980. The National Society of Fund-Raising Executives named him Outstanding Fundraiser in 1991, and he received the Henry A. Rosso Award for Lifetime Achievement in Ethical Fund Raising from the University of Indiana’s Center on Philanthropy in 1992. Murray is believed to have been the only person to obtain all three philanthropic awards.
Interestingly, the Rosso Medal recognizes lifelong dedication to emphasizing philanthropy’s ethics and values, acting as a mentor to perpetuate and invigorate philanthropic traditions, and noted leadership in a long, productive career of distinction – each of which was a hallmark of Milton Murray’s career.
PHILANTHROPY PIONEER: Milton J. Murray, 87, founded the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s Philanthropic Services for Institutions (PSI). He died Dec. 9, 2009, in Loma Linda, California. [Photo: Milton Murray Foundation via ANN]
"He was one of the monumental leaders in the field of philanthropy nationwide, and one that all of us in that profession respected greatly," said Jim Erickson, director of the Center for Philanthropy at La Sierra University. Erickson recently named a series of nonprofit seminars after Murray.
After Murray spent 27 years advocating for the release of a U.S. postage stamp noting the importance of philanthropy, the United States Postal Service issued a 32-cent "Giving & Sharing" commemorative in 1998. In 2007, media reports noted Murray was lobbying the USPS for a stamp to honor John Garner, founder of Independent Sector, a group that helps support nonprofits.
Murray was born on April 6, 1922, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, to missionary parents. After spending his first 17 years in Spanish-speaking territories, he spoke fluent Spanish for the rest of his life.
Murray graduated from La Sierra University, located in Riverside, California, in 1949. He joined the staff at Loma Linda University as the facility's first public relations professional, working there for 12 years.
In 1961, Murray left Loma Linda to work for the G. A. Brakeley Company and later for the Ford Foundation. He subsequently moved to Mexico, commissioned by the Ford Foundation to establish a development program at the University of Guadalajara. The program was the first of its kind at any private institution of higher education in Latin America.
Murray later accepted a position with the Adventist Church's regional administration in the Mid-Atlantic United States as a consultant for institutional development. He also worked at the church's Columbia Union Conference, which serves the U.S. Mid-Atlantic region. During this period, he conducted some of the initial fundraising for what is today known as Hackettstown Regional Medical Center in Hackettstown, New Jersey, part of Adventist HealthCare.
In 1973 Murray joined the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, launching PSI. In that office he helped nurture and establish programs among more than 100 church institutions located primarily in the continental United States.
STAMP OF APPROVAL: After 27 years of lobbying by Milton Murray, the U.S. Postal Service issued a 32-cent commemorative stamp honoring “Giving & Sharing,” the core aspects of philanthropy. [Design © U.S. Postal Service; photo: Scott Publishing Company/Amos Press Inc.]
Kristin Priest, associate director for PSI programs, said Murray played a key role in her career path; she now oversees the program he founded--Career Opportunities.
"I've basically come full circle, thanks to Milton," Priest said.
Murray received an honorary doctorate in humanitarian service from La Sierra University in 2004. Murray's life also inspired the book, "The Makings of a Philanthropic Fund Raiser: the Instructive Example of Milton Murray," written by Ronald Knott and published in 1992.
"He had a rare gift for moving effortlessly between the inside and the outside of the Adventist environment, relentlessly advancing the church's interests and its good reputation in the non-profit world and in general society," Knott said. "He was a consummate church statesman who helped define a great generation of church leadership."
Until his retirement in 1992, Murray was a certified member of the National Society of Fundraising Executives, now the Association of Fundraising Professionals, an accredited member of the Public Relations Society of America, and a Fellow of the Association for Healthcare Philanthropy.
His second wife, Jeanne Murray, two children and two grandchildren, survive him. Virginia H. Murray, his first wife, passed away in 2000.
-- With additional reporting by Don A. Roth and Adventist Review staff
To honor Murray's legacy of service in philanthropy, the family suggests charitable contributions be made to:
Milton Murray Foundation for Philanthropy
PO Box 521
College Place, WA 99324
La Sierra University
Center for Philanthropy
Office of University Advancement
4500 Riverwalk Parkway
Riverside, CA 92515