M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust

As we approach what would have been Jack Murdock’s 103rd birthday, we can’t help but notice countless examples of how the life and passions of a great man continue to ripple into the work and investments of the Trust today. Our commitment to honor his donor intent and our work to rise to his challenge to faithfully serve in the time in which we live is ever before us.

In honor of Jack’s birthday, we wanted to dig into this topic a bit and share some insights into how our benefactor’s legacy continues to shine brightly through countless nonprofits in the Pacific Northwest and how we seek to honor his life and mission in our daily work.

Part 1 – Investing in People

When evaluating his priorities, Jack Murdock valued people above everything. He believed in the power of collaboration between individuals to identify and ignite solutions that could serve the common good. He believed in showing people that they mattered, that they had value as an individual and that they could make the world better through their contributions.

This philosophy was central to his professional endeavors. For example, at Tektronix, Jack spent a considerable time period as the head of Human Resources where he implemented a variety of people-first policies designed to support and serve employees. From introducing flexible schedules to prioritizing employee development to demonstrating trust in staff by providing an honor-system cafeteria, Jack looked for innovative ways to help individuals achieve their fullest potential.

Through his volunteer work, board service and mentorship, numerous nonprofit leaders were strengthened during Jack’s lifetime. As the Trust continues to serve Jack’s legacy, we seek to identify opportunities to “pour in” to individuals across backgrounds to help strengthen our community,

Entrepreneurship, Mentorship and Education

Before he graduated from high school, Jack knew that he wanted to own his own business. A born entrepreneur, Jack was already fixing up radios and helping maintain equipment at his school by his early teens. When graduation approached, he chose to open his own tv and radio sales and repair shop as opposed to pursuing a college degree. It was in that store that he would forge his lifelong friendship with Howard Vollum, the man he would co-found Tektronix with after they completed their military service in World War 2.

Jack understood the value of education and the power of an entrepreneurial spirit. Organizations like Lemonade Day, REAP, Greater Than and the dozens of Boys and Girls Clubs across the region help inspire that same spirit in today’s youth. Nearly a century after Jack struck out on his own to build what would grow into the largest employer in the state of Oregon, we are inspired to see the next generation of Jack Murdocks and Howard Vollums as they seek to create a better world through community investment and business development.

Mental Health

Understanding and supporting mental health were of particular importance to Jack throughout his life and career. Drs. Karl and William Menninger acted as mentors to Jack, helping him understand the enormous positive impacts that can be found by attending to a person’s physical, emotional and social needs in a holistic manner.

During his life, Jack was an active supporter of the Menninger Foundation, an organization recognized as a world leader in mental health treatment based on its personalized, intense treatment programs for individuals with particularly complex or long-standing symptoms. Upon his passing, mental health services became a cornerstone of the Trust’s work, beginning with grants to organizations like Trillium Family Services and Albertina Kerr (two organizations that continue to be partners of the Trust 45 years later).

To date, the Trust has invested more than $24 million in grants to mental health organizations. Jack recognized that mental health was a critical factor in seeing individuals and families flourish and thrive and we are grateful to have partnered with a variety of providers that help address the diverse needs of communities across the Pacific Northwest. Groups like Morrison Child and Family Services, Seneca Family of Agencies, Montana Rescue Mission, Children’s Home Society of Idaho, Denali Family Services, Kairos Northwest and therapeutic riding centers, all of which serve individuals and the families with mental health challenges and needs, to name just a few are continuing the work of serving and supporting the mental health needs of our communities.


Jack was an active volunteer, supporting numerous professional organizations and personally mentoring countless leaders across a variety of sectors. We recognize the immense value that can be had when one professional invests in supporting the growth of another. These personalized engagements can help share real life wisdom and lessons learned through trial and error while putting a real-world perspective on academic knowledge.

As the Trust has grown, we have sought to identify ways we can emulate this approach on a broader scale. Ways in which we can bring professional expertise to leaders and scholars of diverse backgrounds to help serve the common good.  Murdock Trust Enrichment programs, such as Essentials of Development, Women in Leadership and Partners in Science build on this concept.

For decades, these programs have helped connect some of the region’s top professionals with colleagues to help share knowledge and experience. Tens-of-thousands of professionals in the Pacific Northwest have had the opportunity to up level their work – from high school educators gaining hands on experience in professional labs to nonprofit executive directors with a newly defined set of expectations for their board – and increase their contribution to the common good thanks to the dedicated industry experts with who we have been fortunate to partner.

View Part Two of this series here and Part Three here.

back to top

The Trust guides nonprofit organizations through every level of their development through grants and other resources.

The Trust has a wealth of knowledge and experience that can make all the difference to you and your organization.