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The late Melvin J. “Jack” Murdock, co-founder of Tektronix, Inc., was an innovative, entrepreneurial leader with business interests throughout the Pacific Northwest. Upon his untimely death in 1971, his will directed three Trustees to establish a charitable trust “to nurture and enrich the educational, cultural, social and spiritual lives of individuals, families and community.”

A Brief History of Our Leadership

The M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust was created in 1975 in Vancouver, Washington, where Jack Murdock lived. The three named Trustees — Paul L. Boley, James B. Castles and Walter P. Dyke — chose Dr. Sam C. Smith to act as the Trust’s first CEO and to assist in establishing its grantmaking principles and practices.

Dr. Smith’s guidance and influence during the first 13 years of the Trust were instrumental in shaping the organization’s work and spirit. He retired in 1988 and was succeeded by Ford A. Anderson II. Mr. Anderson was followed in the role of executive director by Dr. Neal O. Thorpe, who led the Trust as it began to develop its enrichment and special grants initiatives, and who later served as a Trustee. Dr. Steve Moore became executive director in 2006 and continues to lead all Trust activities and programs today.

In 1986, Lynwood Swanson succeeded Paul L. Boley, the first Trustee to die. Neal Thorpe succeeded Walter P. Dyke, who died in 1995, and John W. Castles succeeded his father, James B. Castles, who also passed away in 1995. Upon Neal Thorpe’s death in 2010, Jeff Grubb was chosen to fill Dr. Thorpe’s role, beginning the third-generation Murdock Trust Board.

Over Four Decades of Regional Impact

Since our founding in 1975, the Trust has made grants with special attention to the five Pacific Northwest states: Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington. Historically, our executive director has identified significant projects for grantmaking, and we presently award grants in the areas of arts and culture, education, health and human services, and science research.

Beginning with assets of $91 million, the Trust’s endowment has grown to approximately $1.3 billion — with over $1 billion given out in grant awards and programs to date. This places the Murdock Trust within the top five largest private foundations in the Pacific Northwest and among the top 100 in the country. We are one of the only foundations headquartered in the Pacific Northwest that regularly awards grants across a five-state region, although some grants are awarded for national purposes that impact our region or areas of interest.

Today, the Murdock Trust staff has both the deep experience and current knowledge necessary for thoughtful grantmaking, diverse enrichment opportunities and prudent asset investment. Regular interaction with our stakeholders helps the Trust respond to new opportunities, make grants consistent with our mission, and promote interactive learning, networking and partnerships among individuals and organizations who share our commitment to making life better for individuals, families and communities. We also convene groups of people to discuss issues of mutual interest and to provide enrichment programs or activities that support our grants program and that build capacity and develop leaders in the nonprofit community.

Jack Murdock was an avid learner, innovator and entrepreneur. The special importance Mr. Murdock placed on education continues to lead Trust support of many colleges and universities across Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington. Inspired by our founder’s strong belief in science and technology, the Trust has long been a leading private supporter of scientific research and innovation. We also welcome organizations that advance culture and the arts, as well as projects that elevate human services and health care in the region, including community- and faith-based organizations, particularly those that serve youth.

Learn more about our founder, Jack Murdock, or meet the people who carry out the Trust’s activities. If we can answer a question, please get in touch.