IN MEMORIAM: Dr. William H. Murdy

Dr. William H. Murdy, Charles Howard Candler Professor of Biology, Dean of Oxford College, Civic Leader, Environmental Steward

By Family Obituary

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In Memoriam: Dr. William H. Murdy

Dr. William H. Murdy, 85, died on March 19, 2014 of complications from Alzheimer’s disease. He  retired from Emory University in 1999 after forty years of dedicated service as a teacher/scholar in biology along with many other roles and responsibilities including Dean of Oxford College.

Dr. Murdy was a native of Fairhaven, Massachusetts and, as a youth, aspired to be a farmer. He graduated from the Bristol County School of Agriculture, and then served four years in the United States Army. Utilizing the GI Bill, he entered the University of Massachusetts and received a B.S. degree in 1956. He later earned a PhD in Botany from Washington University in St. Louis in 1959.

Dr. MurdyDr. Murdy joined the Emory faculty in 1959, chaired the department of biology for eight years, and served as president of Phi Beta Kappa, Sigma Xi and the University Senate. Among many honors, he was appointed Charles Howard Candler Professor of Biology in 1987 and received Emory’s Thomas Jefferson award for distinguished service to the university in 1990.


Over the years, he taught a variety of courses dealing primarily with plants and authored numerous papers on plant systematics, evolution, biodiversity, air pollution and environmental ethics. For the last twelve years of his tenure at Emory, he served as Dean of Oxford College of Emory University in Oxford, Georgia. In the 1990s, he was appointed by then Governor Zell Miller to the State’s Preservation 2000 Program advisory committee. He was a life member of the board of trustees of the Atlanta Botanical Garden, a trustee of the Nature Conservancy of Georgia, a member of the Oxford College Board of Counselors and the Covington Kiwanis Club. He was also a member of the City of Oxford City Council and served two years as Mayor.

Memorial Service March 26

A memorial service will be held on Wednesday, March 26, 2014 at 11:00 A.M. at the Old Church in Oxford, Georgia. In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be made to the Bill and Nancy Murdy Scholarship Fund, Oxford College, Oxford Georgia, 30054 or the Nature Conservancy of Georgia, 1330 West Peachtree Street, Suite 410, Atlanta, Georgia 30309.

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Michelle Valigursky