M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust

The history of the Murdock Trust is full of bright lights. Inspiring leaders who have stewarded Jack Murdock’s legacy with care, dedicated staff who have worked tirelessly to serve our grantees, and community members who have partnered faithfully to serve the common good. Some of the brightest of these lights are the ones whose glow shown behind the scenes, deepening the work of the Trust in ways that might not be seen outside our doors, but were integral to the continuation of Jack Murdock’s legacy.

A woman with short white hair wearing a black blazer, a white shirt, pearl necklace, and pearl earrings laughs while sitting on a park bench with trees in the background.

Dorothy Bank Smith (1925–2022) was one of those bright lights. The wife of the Trust’s first executive director, Sam Smith, Dorothy was an integral member of the Trust’s early work. From accompanying Sam on visits to grantees and partners, to volunteering to provide support for staff and trustee meetings, to occasionally driving Trust guests to and from the office, Dorothy jumped into the life and work of the Trust during her husband’s leadership from 1975 to 1983.

Before she and Sam joined the Trust, as this article from The Columbian recounts, Dorothy was a mathematician who did computing work for the Naval Research Laboratory in Wisconsin and worked in the geophysics department at Continental Oil Co. during World War II. After the war, she taught mathematics at the Universities of Oklahoma and Wisconsin while her husband, who had served in the war, continued his own education and earned a Ph.D. It wasn’t until Sam became executive director at the Trust in 1975 that the Smiths moved to the Pacific Northwest. Though Dorothy would live in Vancouver, WA for the rest of her life, she was a frequent traveler and spent extended time in Korea, Russia, China, Columbia, and other places. She was a fearless woman, a lifelong learner, a faithful friend and family member, an active member of Columbia Presbyterian Church, and one of the most gracious people we knew.

“One of my first conversations on coming to the Trust was with Dorothy,” said Steve Moore, executive director of the Murdock Trust. “She was full of stories, laughter, and history of the Trust like no other.”

“I have always been appreciative of the Trust because they’ve treated me still like family,” said Dorothy at age 96. That is because Dorothy truly was our family. And when a family member passes on, the extinguished light leaves behind a darkness and sense of loss. However, we know that with this loss comes the opportunity to reflect on our gratitude for Dorothy’s many years with the Trust. She is truly one of the brightest lights in the Trust’s history, and we are forever grateful for her.

We will miss you, Dorothy. Thank you for being part of our family.

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