Murlan J. Murphy

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Murlan Jeremiah "Jerry" Murphy, Jr. (1918–2009) was an American Businessman who ran several chemical-related companies in Cleveland, Ohio. Chief among the companies was Murphy-Phoenix Company, makers of Murphy Oil Soap, which was later sold to Colgate-Palmolive.[1]

Early life[edit]

Murphy was born on June 27, 1918, in Cleveland Heights, a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio. He was named after his father, whose unusual first name was the combination of his parents' (Jerry's grandparent's) surnames of Murphy and Whelan, while his middle name came from grandfather Jeremiah T. Murphy. [2] He also had a brother, Lawrence, and a sister, Rita Jane. [3]

He graduated from St. Ignatius High School in Cleveland in 1936. He later graduated from what is now known as Case Institute of Technology bachelor's degree in chemical engineering. He was a brother in the Sigma Nu Fraternity.


Murphy Oil Soap was first marketed in 1910 (approx.) by Mr. Murphy's father, who was also Murlan J. Murphy and was president of the Murphy-Phoenix Company, which was founded in 1890 by Mr. Murphy's grandfather, Jeremiah T. Murphy. The original business of Murphy-Phoenix was Industrial Specialty Chemicals, especially lubricants.

In the early 1970s Mr. Murphy was joined in the business by his five children, Jerry, Ray, Paul, Rita, and Brian, who together managed the growth of Murphy's Oil Soap into a leading consumer brand. In 1991, the Murphy-Phoenix Company was acquired by Colgate Palmolive Company. Subsequent to this transaction, two businesses were formed to continue the industrial chemical product lines. These are JTM Products, Solon, Ohio, and CheMasters, Madison, Ohio. Both companies are owned by members of the Murphy family.

Mr. Murphy has been a generous supporter of many not for profit institutions, primarily in the Cleveland, Ohio area. Foremost among these is his alma mater, St. Ignatius High School, where he donated a gymnasium, a chapel, and a science building, and added to the endowment.

Mr. Murphy and his wife, Margaret (née Scanlan, of Lorain, Ohio) had five children, seventeen grandchildren, and (as of 1/14/08) four great grandchildren.

At age 90, Murphy died on April 18, 2009 at Hospice of the Western Reserve in Cleveland, Ohio.