Catherine G. Murphy: Her Legacy

Catherine G. Murphy, St. Catherine alumna and benefactor of the university’s Catherine G. Murphy Gallery, is responsible for a meaningful cultural legacy for the college and the entire Twin Cities community. Catherine G. Murphy attended the College of St. Catherine in the late 1920s, studying French and art and earning an Associate of Arts degree. Murphy worked for 25 years for the St. Paul Board of Realtors before retiring in 1961, and served as Class of 1930 representative for many years. In 1978, Murphy’s aunt, whom she had taken care of for several years, remembered Murphy in her will with a large sum of money. In a 1979 interview with St. Catherine staff, Murphy explained why she made such a generous commitment to the institution. "I'm very proud of the fact that I went to a good private school – When I decided to make a donation to the college, I told Rita [Gillach Otte '49, former director of planned giving] and Peter [Lupori, professor emeritus of art], 'Instead of the usual scholarship contribution, I prefer to do something for the Art Department.' The college came up with a plan to endow the galleries, which sounded perfect."

With Otte's help, Murphy created a charitable remainder unitrust in 1979, designating the art gallery as the beneficiary. She also committed to providing $10,000 in annual support of the gallery. That same year, the gallery was named in her honor at a gala celebration. Since then, Murphy’s original gift of $500,000 in appreciated stocks has grown to an endowment of over $1 million, the interest from which will provide ongoing support for the gallery. "Catherine’s initial endowment commitment and her annual support provided leverage to build the gallery into the much sought-after exhibition space that it is today," explains Gallery Director Kathleen M. Daniels ’73. Each spring, the gallery hosts a juried exhibition of all senior art majors. These exhibitions were always a favorite of Murphy, because, as she commented in 1979, "I like to see how the students’ perception of art has changed."