John M. Murphy, Sr.

Inducted: 2021
Born: 1938

John M. Murphy Sr. was born on June 19, 1938, in the Fox Point section of Providence. His parents, Jeremiah, and Catherine (Healy) Murphy, emigrated from Ireland and settled in Rhode Island in 1927. He was one of two siblings. John graduated from Hope High School in 1956 and attended Bryant College. He joined the Army and served in Korea from 1958-1960.

He gained invaluable national experience in the business of consumer loans during the early 1960s. In 1965 he returned to Rhode Island and was elected to the Providence City Council in which he served from 1967 to 1975. He represented Ward One (from Wickenden Street to Wayland Square) an area that encompassed a mélange of socio­ economic diversity. He quickly befriended all groups.

In surveying his neighborhood, John noticed one common frailty: his constituent’s financial inability to purchase a home. He employed his vocational skills in commerce to resurrect the inactive state charter of the Home Loan Investment Bank. Within a generation, under John’s initiative the institution obtained a federal charter, securitized loans on Wall Street, and originated home equity mortgages in 48 states.

At one time or another, John has served as CEO of Beara Capital, Northern National Life Insurance Company, and the Home Credit Corporation of Rhode Island. As a banking pioneer and entrepreneur nonpareil, he originated billions of dollars in home equity mortgages throughout the United States. In 1991, INC. Magazine named him the finance industry’s Entrepreneur of the Year. John was also the main financial contributor to the University of Rhode Island for the establishment of the Mentoring and Tutoring Institute (MTI) Program in 2008. Years later both URI and Providence College recognized him with honorary doc­ toral degrees.

Over the course of his remarkable career, John has gifted over $10,000,000 to deserving institutions. The Rhode Island Foundation honored him for supporting five different funds in its portfolio. John donated to local and national hospitals too. He helped finance the San Miguel School in Providence and Louverture Cleary School in Haiti. He connected Ireland with St. Jude’s Hospital. John also financially established an educational alliance for Southeast Asians. He spearheaded and underwrote the Major Jeremiah Murphy Scholarship Fund for the children of Providence police officers named in honor of his brother.

John has donated generously to St. Joseph’s Hospital, St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, the Providence Boys & Girls Clubs, and Fatima Hospital. He helped initiate “tele-medicine” capabilities in Belfast, Ireland.

At Providence College, this devout Catholic arranged a scholarship program for students of color in honor of his good friend, the late Dr. Kenneth Walker. His current endeavor there involves a $500,000 endowment to fund an annual lecture on Irish American culture by leading Irish scholars. This presentation, in the name of his parents, reflects the love of a son to his mother and father who sacrificed so much during difficult times to raise their children in faith and service.

John is married to Grace (Sousa) Murphy. He has four sons: John Jr., Kevin, Brian, and Daniel.

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