A legacy honoring the blessings of life

Murray composite

“Our greatest satisfaction has come from helping others.”

A strong spiritual faith, a passion for the arts, and a feeling of gratitude to this community made Ray and Nancy Murray philanthropic leaders in the Tampa Bay area. Their gift of more than $6 million was the largest initial donation to the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay, and the couple later added $5 million — $4 million of which was for evangelism. They began supporting missionaries early in their marriage because they recognized the importance of supporting spiritual growth worldwide.

The Murrays' permanent endowment funds within the Foundation benefit The Florida Orchestra, Ruth Eckerd Hall for the Performing Arts, A Woman’s Place Ministries, the Jane Ling Memorial Library, the Master Chorale, organizations that help women and families, and evangelical programs.

Through the the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay, the Murrays also supported WEDU, Trinity College of Florida, Dallas Theological Seminary, the Florida Holocaust Museum, Prison Crusade, Florida Family Council, and the Center for Girls. In addition, they provided the lead gift of $1 million to the Community Foundation’s Challenge Grant program which offers a three-to-one match for nonprofits working to start an endowment fund to ensure stability in good times and bad. The Murrays also offered major support to the Tampa Bay Youth Orchestras and the Pinellas Youth Symphony.

Ray and Nancy’s generosity was surpassed only by their wish to be quiet givers. “We thank God that we are able to help our community and feel blessed and proud that we can give back in this way,” said Mr. Murray, who died in December 2014.

Ray Murray was born in Pittsburgh and lived in Tampa and Clearwater from the age of 3. After his parents divorced in 1942, he began living on his own at his father’s auto parts shop. His life was shaped by the need to make his own way. A graduate of Hillsborough High School, Mr. Murray was an entrepreneur from his teens. He started a bicycle repair business at 16 and subsequently owned 34 companies across many industries, including manufacturing, technology, real estate, construction, aerospace, consulting and telecommunications. Mr. Murray always said, "I am in the people business.”

Nancy Murray was born in Baltimore and moved to Tampa with her family when she was 11. She and Mr. Murray were married right after her graduation from Hillsborough High School, and she devoted her energies to raising their three children—two sons, Michael and Stephen, and a daughter, Terri. They had seven grandchildren and seven great grandchildren. The Murrays were proud that two of their children and a grandchild have established funds within the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay.

As busy as the Murrays were with their businesses and their family, they found time to reach out to others: “When the going was tough for us, someone in our lives helped us,” Mr. Murray said.

Mr. Murray served as chairman of the board for The Florida Orchestra and was on the board of many organizations, including the Florida Holocaust Museum, Prison Crusade Ministries, Ruth Eckerd Hall, Tampa Bay Research Institute, Toccoa Falls College, Trinity College, and the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay.

Mrs. Murray worked behind the scenes administering her fund for Women and Families at the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay. Her grants have helped The Spring of Tampa Bay, the National Council for Community and Justice and their Camp Anytown program, the Boys and Girls Club of the Suncoast for the “Smart Girls” program, the PACE Center for Girls, and The Centre for Girls in Hillsborough County.

For their good works, the Murrays have received numerous awards, including the Tampa Bay Business Journal’s Hall of Fame Award, the Golden Baton Award, the Philanthropists of the Year Award, and the Tree of Life Award. In 2005 the Murrays were named Mr. and Mrs. Clearwater for their philanthropy in Pinellas County. Their giving has enriched the Tampa Bay area culturally, spiritually and economically. They gave from their hearts and have earned the respect and love the citizens of the Tampa Bay community and beyond.

“The Community Foundation has been the perfect tool for enabling us to share our assets with those in need.”

Learn more:

Suncoast Business Journal interview with Ray Murray about his life and philanthropy

Tampa Bay Times Epilogue on Ray Murray