Growing up, Tim Murphy had a front row seat to the devastation that polio could cause the human body. His father, Raymond Murphy, had contracted the disease, spent time in an iron lung and was ultimately disabled. “His right leg and right arm were half the size of his left,” Murphy says.
So it comes as little surprise that when the founder of Murphy Automotive—the parent company of Edina Tire & Auto and Grandview Tire & Auto—joined the Rotary Club of Edina in 1995, he was drawn to the service organization’s signature project to eradicate polio, now called End Polio Now. Twenty-seven years and more than a dozen international trips later, the 67-year-old Lakeville resident is proud to have played a part in reducing the number of wild poliovirus cases by more than 99.99 percent. Earlier this year, he was one of just eight Rotarians worldwide to be recognized with the Regional Service Award for a Polio Free World.
“Tim Murphy is the most deserving yet most self-effacing advocate for Rotary’s polio eradication initiative I’ve ever had the pleasure to know,” says Tim Mulcrone, District 5950 polio chair and a member of the Rotary Club of Chanhassen. “He has quietly negotiated the donation of hundreds of thousands of dollars for polio eradication and then casually passed off the credit to others.” Sandra Schley, a fellow member of the Rotary Club of Edina, has taken three trips to Africa with Murphy. Together, they tackled polio eradication as well as safe water and sanitation projects in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. “He’s a wonderful, wonderful man,” Schley says. “A citizen of the world and a selfless contributor to goodness.”
Schley says that Murphy has a magnetism that draws people to him. “He has a way of being with people,” Schley says. Schley remembers a trip to Africa where she and some of their fellow Rotarians were having trouble adjusting to the culture—specifically pungent odors around them. “He just carried on, hugging everyone and talking like he couldn’t smell a thing,” Schley says of Murphy.
Murphy says that people would refer to him as “iron gut” because nothing—food, smells, sanitary conditions—ever seemed to bother him. “I didn’t care where I stayed or where I was going,” Murphy says. He just wanted to help.
When Murphy first joined the Rotary Club, he told himself that he wouldn’t just go to have lunch every Thursday. “I was going to be involved,” he says.
“It became his second home,” says Rick Murphy, Murphy’s oldest son. “It makes us incredibly proud to have someone as passionate about helping the community as him.”
Among the many roles he has assumed with the Rotary Club, Murphy has served as club president, district governor and international project chair. He has traveled internationally roughly a dozen times working on service projects related to polio eradication, safe water and cleft palates.
“All the way back to the beginning, he loved international projects,” Schley says. Murphy has also been a passionate speaker and fundraiser for the Rotary’s other projects, encouraging people to get involved.
“He empowers those around him,” Rick says. “They are inspired to do not what he could do great, but what they could do great. I couldn’t ask for a better mentor or dad.”
The Rotary Club of Edina
4801 W. 50th St.; 952.215.7924