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Adventist philanthropy pioneer Murray dies at 87

Founder of church's philanthropic giving organization 'set standard of excellence'

Adventist philanthropy pioneer Murray dies at 87

The philanthropy stamp Murray advocated during his lifetime.

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Milton Murray, a life-long 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 from the University of Indiana in 1992.

"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 stamp commemorating philanthropy, the United States Postal Service issued "Giving & Sharing" postage in 1998.

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.

In 1973 Murray joined the Adventist world headquarters, launching PSI. In that office he helped nurture and establish programs among more than 100 church institutions located primarily in the continental United States.

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.

He is survived by his second wife, Jeanne Murray, two children and two grandchildren. His first wife, Virginia H. Murray, died in 2000.

--additional reporting by Don Roth

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