Mary Rule Murphy Endowed Scholarship

Spring 2013

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Walter and Mary Murphy

Walter and Mary Murphy

Ret. Army Colonel Walter Murphy of Griffin, Georgia, had one thing in mind when he returned to the University of Oklahoma campus more than 50 years after his graduation. Although the Alumni Association had activities of every variety planned for the Reunion Weekend of October 2012, Murphy was drawn to Oklahoma Memorial Union, the site of his first date with a charming co-ed named Mary.

He knew her voice before they met. They had been PBX operators on campus in the 1950s, she on North Base, he at Cross Center. “She had a lovely voice,” said Murphy, and he wanted to meet the girl behind it. Two years after that first dinner date in the Union cafeteria, they were married.

A student in special education, Mary put her degree plans on hold to accompany her husband throughout his successful military career. After her death in 2010, Murphy wanted to find a fitting memorial in recognition of her love for OU, the teaching profession and her desire to help others. This spring the OU Foundation received a gift of $100,000 to create the Mary Rule Murphy Endowed Scholarship for students in the Special Education Program in the Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education.

“Mary earned this money, too,” said Murphy. “She worked throughout her life to make things better for people with special needs.”

Unable to complete her degree at OU, Mary continued her education at the University of South Florida, where she was awarded a BA in elementary education in 1965. While raising five children, she earned a master’s in special education at Georgia State University in 1974.

Her experience included teaching in elementary schools, serving as director of special education for three counties in Georgia, and serving as learning disabilities specialist, director of special education and director of remedial education at the Georgia Department of Education in Atlanta.

Murphy received his bachelor’s degree in English and his master’s in library science from OU and was a Distinguished Military Graduate of OU’s ROTC program. His military career took the couple all over the globe, from England, Italy and Germany to the Netherlands before they settled in Florida and Georgia.

Throughout their moves, Mary kept current on all teaching certificates and advancements for the treatment of special needs like autism and spina bifida.

“Mary reached thousands of people,” a state superintendent once told Murphy. Now, with an endowed scholarship that will help OU students carry on her work for children with special needs, she will continue to do so.