Remembering Kevin Murphy
A PARS Tribute to Kevin J. Murphy, Chief Operating Officer (October 1998 – July 2011)
For 12 ½ years PARS was fortunate to have Kevin Murphy as one of its leaders, and upon his passing in July 2011 we began to reflect back at the impact he made on the world as we know it.
Born and raised in southern California, early in life Kevin gained a passion for local government, and while a student at UCLA he formally pursued a quest for knowledge of City governance. With no particular agenda, Kevin began his professional career in City management with the simple desire to use his abilities to, in his words, “make the place where I live better”. As a result, Kevin spent 22 years of his career in City management and then spent the remainder of his career providing retirement and employee benefit services to public agencies through Public Agency Retirement Services (PARS).
Upon embarking on his career, Kevin worked in various positions at the southern California cities of Walnut, Stanton, Lancaster, and Alhambra. At age 29 he was named City Manager at Alhambra, one of the youngest City Managers ever in the state. At Alhambra his high energy personality, competence and effectiveness made him well-liked and well respected by his colleagues; he tackled a number of complicated and controversial challenges during his 9 years as their leader. At age 38 Kevin received the Newport Beach City Manager appointment, and from the outset there Kevin faced an array of daunting operational & personnel challenges, right as the city was hit with severe state revenue reductions and a short time later the Orange County bankruptcy. Through his 6 ½ years at Newport Beach, Kevin transformed the functional and operational culture of the city while dramatically modernizing its technological infrastructure. In the process, Kevin further enhanced his reputation as a highly effective manager and was particularly noted for his calm demeanor and unwavering integrity in leading the complicated & diverse business of Newport Beach’s operations.
By 1998 Kevin was ready for a change and PARS provided him the opportunity. Through PARS Kevin was able to continue providing service to local government agencies, except now on a more widespread basis. Being familiar with PARS products he utilized at Newport Beach, Kevin became further intrigued with the company’s innovative approach, strong ongoing client service commitment, and intrinsic qualities, values and potential of the existing core staff. Kevin quickly bought into the company’s mission of assisting public agencies through its products, and envisioned wider applicability based on his understanding of public agency needs via his years of experience in public agency management. Today it is apparent that his vision came to fruition as PARS clientele has tripled since Kevin began at PARS.
The PARS team benefited from Kevin’s top-notch management skills and “off the charts” work ethic. However, his most special talent was his interpersonal approach towards everyone on the team via his good natured personality, and complimented by his credibility, confidence and unwavering integrity. Kevin constantly encouraged staff to analyze who they were and how they interrelated with each other, the PARS service providers and the PARS clientele. The result was that he made the PARS team more interactive, innovative, effective and professional; and, somehow along the way he made the work environment at PARS a whole lot more fun. Ultimately for most members of the PARS team Kevin was much more than simply a co-worker or a boss; Kevin was a mentor, a father figure, a brother, and an everlasting friend.
Kevin’s passing remains a severe loss to the PARS team. However, an interesting phenomenon happened along the way of working with him and knowing him: Kevin tricked all of us into converting the potential of our intrinsic qualities into reality. That reality remains a huge component of the successful organization that PARS is today.
Notwithstanding this great loss we have all experienced, like every other organization he has touched during his career, Kevin left us at PARS well prepared for continued success long into the future.