By Bethany Swaby
May 29, 2002
Jim Murphy can still recall the eye-opening experience of being a young boy walking along Kirkwood Avenue.
Sidewalks full of diverse people, a dazzling array of restaurants and shops, nearby Indiana University — all were things that so impressed the Greene County youngster that he vowed one day he’d live in Bloomington.
So right after he graduated from Missouri Valley College in 1978, he moved to Bloomington.
Life was good. He worked a variety of construction jobs — a skill he picked up from working with his father — married Cathy Minett, began a family and built a life.
But about 15 years ago, Murphy decided he was ready for a change.
He quit his job and took a chance on a maintenance job at CFC Properties, one of the city’s largest commercial and residential development companies.
“It was really a life decision,” Murphy said. “I actually quit my job, something I’d never done before. And I had no job to go to either … But I just really felt I needed to make a change because I knew I wanted to go in another direction.”
Hired in as a maintenance supervisor because of his construction background, he quickly realized his strong work ethic and leadership skills would help him move up the ladder.
He studied real estate, worked long hours and today, Murphy is president of CFC Properties.
But he can pin his achievements back on his family and his upbringing, where loving parents and seven siblings reinforced his belief that hard work will result in success.
Born in 1955 at Linton’s old Freeman Hospital, Murphy was Barbara and Walter Murphy’s fifth child.
The family moved frequently to various states, but kept coming back to Greene County. Murphy attended first through eighth grade in Linton, attended school in Bloomfield for about six months and finished out his high school career at Eastern High School in 1974.
There were plenty of fun times — swimming in strip mine pits, playing basketball, and pick-up games of baseball with buddies.
But it’s football that sparks memories for brother Steve Murphy, who can recall watching his brother, who was then in middle school, get steamrolled by an older student in a game played on the front lawn of the old Linton High School.
“One of the great big guys had the ball and instead of getting out of his way, Jim took him head-on,” he said. “He got a concussion and got put into the hospital.”
But the determination he saw on his brother’s face is part of what made him the first in the family to go to college, he said, something that inspired the rest of the siblings.
Sometimes it wasn’t easy for the large family.
Everyone worked hard to keep food on the table, and Murphy spent most of his summers laboring at a variety of jobs, including Otis Elevator, the Crane Division of the Naval Surface Warfare Center, de-tassling corn and putting up hay for neighboring farmers.
Those are fond memories for longtime friend Tom Roberts, who graduated with Murphy and is now a vice president at CFC’s parent company, Cook Medical.
“We worked a lot in those days, but we had a lot of fun too,” he said. “We’re still friends, and we’ll be friends for a long time.”
Roberts recalled one summer the two spent managing other students de-tassling corn when a young girl fainted and stopped breathing.
“I think the heat and the lack of air got to her and she fainted,” Roberts said. “She stopped breathing and Jim and I performed CPR on her. She was OK, but it was scary.”
He recalled Murphy’s family never had much, but always treated him well when he visited.
As for Murphy, he said he was aware his family wasn’t well-to-do, but said they never wanted for anything.
“I never felt I went without anything … We were raised to work and work hard,” he said. “And when opportunities present themselves, you go for it.”
And he’s thankful for the opportunities he’s been given at CFC, which he feels wouldn’t have been possible without the support of his wife, family, friends and coworkers.
“I’m blessed for that,” Murphy said, adding he doesn’t feel success can be measured by a large salary or big office.
“I think success is whatever you make of yourself,” he said. “Happiness is success.”