Jim Murray, Founder of Ronald McDonald House in Philadelphia & Former Eagles' General Manager, to Give Commencement Address at DeSales, Sat., May 22
Jim Murray, member of the Ronald McDonald House Charities and former general manager of the Eagles, will deliver the Commencement address at DeSales University at 11 a.m., Saturday, May 22. Graduation exercises will be held on the mall between the Trexler Library and DeChantal Hall on the Center Valley Campus. (Rain location is Billera Hall.)
During the ceremony, Father Bernard O'Connor, OSFS, president of DeSales, will confer degrees upon nearly 380 graduates. Also, Murray, Robert C. Wood, chairman of Wood Dining Services, and Marlene O. "Linny" Fowler, local philanthropist, will be awarded honorary doctor of humane letters degrees. Senior class president, Katelyn Finnegan, TV / film major from Rockledge, Pa., will give welcoming remarks.
Murray, a native of Philadelphia, also is president of Jim Murray Ltd, a sports promotion and marketing firm. "Eagles Cheers," a pro football TV show, is one of his productions. He graduated from Villanova University in 1960, and began his career in sports administration with the Tidewater Tides of baseball's Sally League. After a stint of active duty with the Marine Corps Reserve, he returned to baseball as assistant general manager of the Atlanta Crackers, an affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals. In 1964, he left baseball to enter the restaurant business, but returned to Villanova as sports information director in 1966. In 1969, he joined the Philadelphia Eagles' public relations staff and became the NFL team's administrative assistant two years later. In 1974, five years after joining the organization, Murray was named general manager for the Eagles.
For more than nine years, Murray served as general manager and took the franchise from the NFL's cellar to Super Bowl heights. In 1976, he and owner Leonard Tose hired Dick Vermeil as head coach. From 1978 through 1981, the Eagles made the NFL playoffs under Murray's guidance. After the 1980 season, the Eagles played the Raiders in Super Bowl XV, which was the only Super Bowl appearance in the franchise's history. Murray left the Eagles in 1983.
During his 14 years with the Eagles, Murray assumed leadership roles in a number of community projects. He helped start the successful Eagles Fly for Leukemia campaign. He was the founder of the first Ronald McDonald House in Philadelphia and persuaded many of his peers in the NFL to become involved in the unique Ronald McDonald House concept. The Ronald McDonald Houses provide temporary homes, at little or no cost, for the families of children undergoing treatment for various illnesses at nearby hospitals. Started in Philadelphia in 1974, there are now over 200 Ronald McDonald Houses worldwide.
His numerous honors and awards include the first annual Leonard Tose Award in 2002, Citizen of the Year Award from the American Medical Association in 1999, the Distinguished Service Award from the American Legion in 1992, inducted into the Philadelphia City All-Star Chapter of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame in 1992, President Ronald Reagan's Medal for Volunteers of America in 1987, and the prestigious Bert Bell Award from The Bakers Club of Philadelphia in 1983. He served as director of marketing for the Garden State Race track from 1985 to 1987.
Murray and his wife, Dianne, reside in Rosemont, Pa. They have five children and three grandchildren.
Linny Fowler has devoted much of her time and energy to children's welfare in the Lehigh Valley area, where she has served on numerous boards for more than 30 years, with special emphasis on arts and education, children at risk and the Latino community. Her philanthropy is evident in various institutions throughout the Lehigh Valley, including the Fowler Education Center at the Banana Factory and St. Luke's Fowler Family Museum, a history of St. Luke's Hospital and Health Network, among others.
A native of New York City, Fowler began her volunteer work at Head Start in the Bethlehem area in 1967, and soon became a leader of Cub Scouts and Girl Scouts. She was one of the founders of the Lehigh Valley Coalition for Kids. For eight years she tutored and volunteered at Hogar Crea, where she was president as well as a member of the Steering Committee. She served for six years as a member of the Admission and Allocations Committee of the United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley.
Fowler serves on the boards of Valley Youth House, the Lehigh Valley Community Foundation, the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, Lehigh Valley Child Care and the Arts Quest Board and Foundation. Other organizations benefiting from her support include the Roberto Clemente Charter School, the Discovery Center, the Donegan Family Center, Lehigh Valley Summerbridge, and the Allentown Art Museum.
Her numerous honors and awards include the Bethlehem Area School District "Friend to BASD Award" in 2003, the Allentown Art Museum Award in 2002, the Northampton County Community College Community Fabric Award in 1998, and the National Society of Fundraising Executives Philanthropist of the Year Award in 1997. She was chosen by the YWCA committee to be the inaugural recipient of the Golden Laurel Award in 1995.
Fowler earned a bachelor's of arts degree in biology from Skidmore College. She is co-owner of Fowler & Pena Creations, a stained glass business creating pieces for private collections, churches and other institutions.
She is married to Beall Fowler, a retired professor of physics at Lehigh University. They have four children and 11 grandchildren.
Wood, a native of Allentown, became chairman of The Wood Co. in 1999, following his father, M.W. "Scotty" Wood, who founded the company in Allentown in 1940. As a boy, he helped his father at the family's Sandwich Shoppe restaurant in Allentown. The business became even more lucrative, when it began supplying school dining services, first at Muhlenberg College and then Lehigh University in the 1950s, followed by a number of other school contracts. Presently, the Wood Co. is the fourth largest food service company in the United States. It has about 1,800 employees in Lehigh and Northampton counties, and about 16,000 total employees in 11 states, mostly in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic regions, with annual sales of about $650 million. In 2001, Wood Co. was acquired by the French company Sodexho Alliance, the largest catering company in the world.
After earning a bachelor's degree in hotel administration from the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration in 1967, Wood's first job was as a sous chef at Allentown College of St. Francis de Sales, now DeSales University. He worked his way up to executive vice president and president, before being named chairman. In addition to dining service management, his areas of expertise include food processing plant management, food facility design, product development and testing, marketing and sales management, promotional development, as well as non-profit leadership and fundraising. In 1996, he became a member of the American Culinary Federation and Foodservice Management Professional.
Wood has been a member of numerous civic and professional organizations, including the Community & Economic Development Cabinet for the City of Allentown, Good Shepherd President's Advisory Board, Lehigh Valley / Allentown Hospital Board of Associates, Minsi Trails Council Advisory Board, National Restaurant Association and Sacred Heart Hospital Board of Associates. In addition, he is a trustee for the Trexler Trust.
His honors and awards include the National Society of Fund Raising Executives Outstanding Corporation Award in 2000, Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants Community Service Award in 2000. He was the United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley Morning Call Silver Bowl Recipient in 1996 and 1998.
Wood is the father of two sons and two daughters.
Press Release: Jim Murray, Founder of Ronald McDonald House in Philadelphia & Former Eagles' General Manager, to Give Commencement Address at DeSales, Sat., May 22 | Posted on: 5/13/2004
For more info:
Tom McNamara, Executive Director of Communications
DeSales University | 2255 Station Avenue | Center Valley, PA 18034
610.282.1100 x1219 | Tom.McNamara@desales.edu