Dr. Keith Murphy

dr. keith murphy
Dr. Keith Murphy, 57, a resident of West Fargo, North Dakota, died on April 1 in Fargo under palliative care at Essentia Hospital, surrounded by his family. Keith Eugene Murphy, Ph.D., was a tenured professor in biology at North Dakota State University, where he taught until just days prior to his death. Keith, the dearly beloved son of Arlene Murphy and the late Stephen Murphy, was born on October 31, 1960 in Chicago, Illinois. He graduated from St. Laurence High School in Burbank, Illinois, where he was also named an all-American cross-country athlete. He earned an undergraduate degree in microbiology at Indiana University. He received an M.S. in molecular genetics at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, and his Ph.D. in genetics/biochemistry from Louisiana State University. After his Ph.D., Dr. Murphy went on to a postdoctoral fellowship in the Department of Cell, Molecular and Structural Biology at Northwestern University Medical School. He spent the next few years as a Postdoctoral Research Geneticist at the USDA-Agricultural Research Service in Laramie, Wyoming. He then took a position as Assistant Professor of Biology at The Citadel. This was followed by positions at the University of Memphis (Associate Professor of Molecular Genetics), Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences (Professor of Pathobiology), Clemson University (Professor of Genetics and head of the Clemson University Genomics Institute), and North Dakota State University (Professor of Biological Sciences). He achieved tenure in all these positions. He was also involved in collaborations with the College of Veterinary Medicine at Midwestern University in Arizona. Dr. Murphy’s interest and passion was canine genetics. He served as an editorial advisor for several genetics and genomics journals, and he was a reviewer of grant proposals for the National Institutes of Health, and the Canine Health Foundation, where he also served as the Foundation’s Science Officer. He had a long research career, funded by grants from 1993 through 2012. He was recognized with awards of excellence for both research and teaching. Dr. Murphy was known for a wry sense of humor and a demanding sense of values and work ethic. During his career, he identified several canine genetic markers and was the author of patents and numerous publications. He leaves behind a legacy of contributions to canine genetics, as well as numerous postdoctoral fellows and students who earned Ph.D.s, D.V.M.s, and M.D.s, and whose careers were shaped by his intellect and mentorship. Dr. Murphy is survived by his beloved wife, Carol, two sons, Connor and Taylor, and three stepchildren, Brennan Balog, Cole Kartes and Rachel Kartes. He was also a dear brother to Stephen (late Maureen), sisters Dianne (Randy Johnson), Dr. Jean Murphy (Gene Tenuta), and Kristen Murphy (Brendan McConville). He was uncle to Stephen, Jessica, Kathleen Johnson, Griffin McConville, Stephen, and Connor Murphy. Keith  also leaves behind his English Goldendoodle Percy, also known as Percival Albus Wulfric Brian Dumbledore Murphy. Visitation will be from 2-3 p.m., followed by the Memorial Mass at 3:00 p.m., Friday, April 6, 2018 at Holy Cross Church in West Fargo. Interment will be at a later date in Holy Sepulchre Cemetery, Alsip, IL. Arrangements entrusted to the care of Boulger Funeral Home and Celebration of Life Center. To sign the online guestbook, please go to www.boulgerfuneralhome.com.

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  1. Today, I learned that your family is mourning the loss of your beloved Keith. Please accept my condolences and be assured that almighty God is certainly aware of your painful feelings. May God comfort and sustain you to get through this day and others to come (Isa 41:13). Wishing your family all the best at this most difficult period.

  2. I worked under Keith when he was Chair of Genetics & Biochemistry at Clemson University. Keith was very supportive of me and my career, and I always appreciated his candor and honesty. He was a straight-shooter and always tried to do right by our department, our faculty, and our students. I will always remember him with fondness and humor.

  3. Although I have not talked to him in years, hearing Keith has passed is a source of great personal sadness. I knew Keith when we were both faculty members at TAMU. Thus, my memories of Keith are frozen when he was young and healthy–the Keith pictured in this website. The TAMU Keith was larger than life: brimming with enthusiasm, fully engaged in his research and a great mentor to graduate students. He was also a good friend. I remember Keith as a person who would give you the shirt off his back. He would grumble about it but the shirt would always be given. That was what I liked so much about him: his inherent kindness that he tried to mask. He is in God’s hands, may he enjoy his future journeys.

  4. I recruited Keith to Texas A&M in the department of Pathobiology, and so I remember him in much better times-perhaps his best. He was a very unique-in-a-good-way person, who tried to conceal his kindness and generosity, but it always came through. The esprit de corps in the lab was admirable, and reflected on his abilities as a mentor and researcher. I had not talked to him since the last time several years ago that he came by and visited. Perhaps he preferred to not burden others with his issues. He will be missed.

  5. I’m so sorry for your family and the worlds loss.

    As Administrative Coordinator of Genetics and Biochemistry dept. at Clemson University, where Dr Murphy served as department Chair for several years before moving to NDSU, I was fortunate to have worked with and know him.

    He was a most intelligent man, at times coming across as arrogant, yet the more he would speak the more I realized he had a right to that arrogance, as most times, he was right and we knew it. He’d never back down when he believed in something or someone. He believed in the people who worked along side him. He saw in people the best of their abilities even when they themselves did not and he encouraged them to reach for their personal best. Even the graduate students whom he referred to as “fools” knew how much he cared but he would never admit it.

    He was great with students wanting to share his knowledge with them so selflessly even as he would say “That question took up 5 minutes of time I will never get back”.
    He acknowledged good faculty and staff in their accomplishments. He did not care if you were the Janitor or the President, you were treated the same.

    He always told me he would rather spend time with dogs than people. I believe the only thing he loved more than Dog were his two sons, whom he spoke of often and was so proud of.

    His quick wit, sense of humor and generosity were contagious and will never be forgotten.
    RIP Dr Murphy

  6. I am so sad to hear that we lost Keith. He was a great man with a high level of intelligence and integrity. He was one of the first people I met with at NDSU around six years ago. I loved his sense of humor and his candor. I had the honor of providing a guest lecture in his class last fall, and it was clear how much his students admired and respected him. I will miss him.

  7. I first met Keith in 1980 while he was an undergraduate microbiology major at Indiana University. I had an opportunity to interact with him while I was an Associate Instructor in the Department of Biology. Over a series of courses, I came to appreciate, what everyone who ever met or worked with Keith would quickly appreciate, he had a quick mind, would see connections others would often miss, and pushed the boundaries of whatever project he selected to pursue with a zeal and enthusiasm others could only imagine. Like most graduate teaching assignments one loses track of students as time moves on.

    Keith and I became reacquainted when he accepted a position at the Citadel in 1993. We learned that we had similar research interests and embarked on a collaborative project. Unfortunately, given the funding mores of the time neither one of us could pursue the project with the required vigor. However, we continued to talk science and it was at this time that I learned of Keith’s interest in the genetics of canines. I was impressed with his approach to the problem and how quickly he became an acknowledged expert in the field. When Keith and his young family elected to leave Charleston I was sad for the loss, for I valued his counsel and enjoyed our collaborations. However, I recognized that it was an essential decision for him if he was going to be successful as an academic scientist and that he was! He made wise choices as his career took him from Charleston, to Memphis, to College Station, to Clemson and finally to Fargo and North Dakota State University. His outstanding contributions to the field of canine genetics substantially laid the foundation for future investigators in all fields that will toil to advance our understanding of the wonder that are dogs.

    Most of all I will miss his energy, enthusiasm and intolerance to the word no. Keith was all about ‘can do’ and that he did. I offer my condolences and prayers to his family with the hope that he may rest in peace

  8. My sympathy to Keith’s family. I had the opportunity to work with him at NDSU and will miss our discussions on genetics and piebaldism in mammals. These past few years I saw how much he invested in students, sharing his intellect and experiences and his willingness to take time for the things that mattered most.

  9. Condolences to Keith’s family and friends. He was a great colleague and friend at NDSU, and I will miss him.

  10. I had the pleasure of working with Keith and his group many years ago on a project to map a dog coat color gene. We had not communicated for some time, but I recently learned of his untimely passing from one of his colleagues, and wanted to offer my condolences to family and friends. I remember quite fondly his “wry sense of humor and demanding sense of values”, as well as an eagerness and enthusiasm for science that was infectious and honest. I know that Keith’s contributions to both science and scientific training will live on.

  11. I am deeply saddened to learn of Keith’s passing, and I offer my sincere condolences to his family and many friends. Keith and I were colleagues during his time at Texas A&M University, where our collaboration studying an inherited kidney disease in several breeds and families of dogs was highly productive. His dedication to the pursuit of our success in this work, as well as to the personal and professional development of the trainees who worked in his lab, was unwavering. I always valued his counsel and enjoyed the time we spent together both at work and in social settings. It was my very good fortune that he became my friend. May he now rest in peace.

  12. The Keith I met was not yet an eminent dog man but a freshly minted PhD from LSU who embarked on a post-doc at Northwestern University, where he was hired in part because a recommendation letter aptly called him “a diamond in the rough”. In our first encounter, he was sitting at a desk next to mine, wearing his signature sweatshirt and red UI baseball hat, and for no obvious reason started latching at the decadent, fancy Swiss post doc he thought I was. Instead of frazzling me, this unusual behavior intrigued me. We started hanging out for lunch and in one of these he declared that “this could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship”. And such it became. During and after hours, he taught me about all things Americana-for me a steep step up from getting that education by watching the Roseanne show. So, I truly owe Keith my American education, both academic and otherwise. Keith was exceptional in many ways and most notably by combining a good old sense of fun with a Spartan behavior: at the core, he was an athlete with exceptional endurance and tolerance for physical pain, whose biggest wound was to have narrowly missed being selected for the Olympic game. In these years, he also was an American romantic of the highest caliber. As we moved through our careers, we always kept in touch and our paths sometimes crossed: when he was at College Station, I was to Shreveport and this was the opportunity for our families to have several memorable gatherings. And it is at my place that Keith staid when he was getting his liver transplant, and it is may be not by chance that he then got tangled in a time of high drama in my life. This, it should be said, never stopped Keith from being loyal and keeping reaching to me with kindness and humor in spite of his own ailments. It is so sad that he is now gone, it is not fair that he endured so many torments. There was still so much he was striving to accomplish. As the movie goes: “all the moments of our lives will be lost in time like tears in the rain”. But, for the time I still have to stand, Keith will always remain in my heart and mind what he jokingly claimed to be, but actually was: a true Master. I wish I could still say “take care, Keith”.

  13. Keith – how rare it is to find such ability wrapped in genuine humility. Uncompromising integrity, unshakable loyalty, unquenchable spirit, while dependent upon and devoted to God. He gave us a model for courage and commitment. When faced with overwhelming and life threatening circumstances his standard response was, “It is what it is”. Thank you, Keith. I trust that now he has heard his Lord say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

  14. I worked with Keith at Texas A&M University and I am deeply saddened to hear that he has passed away. I will remember Keith as one of the most passionate and “in love with science” scientists I have met. He was funny and full of bravado- a trait that only partially hid how much he cared for family, friends and students. Keith had a brilliant, quick mind and I will always feel fortunate to have worked with him and learned from him. I am very sorry we lost Keith so prematurely. My husband and I send our condolences to his family and friends.

  15. As one of Keith’s students I am sad to hear of his passing, but also know that he will continue to live on through those of us he trained and those who loved him. We’re all better for having known him. My prayers are with his family through this time. And those of us who worked with him will continue to push back the frontiers of science, just like he challenged us to do every day.

  16. This is very sad news. I knew and worked with Keith in the late 80s while he was at NW and we had many great times “fighting the establishment” and having successes that many thought were not capable of us since we were black sheep and had the guts to challenge authority. Keith was helpful me getting my first academic position at MUSC in 1994 and we got together often while we were both in Charleston to discuss our visions of academics and love of dogs. I was able to witness his evolution as a canine advocate and genetics expert and still use his success story when I train students in making career choices and “pursuing their passions”. When I was postdocing at UW, I would drive with my dogs out to Laramie to spend time with him and his family and get out to hike and climb. Keith always marched to the beat of his own drum and this did not sit well with many, but was able to back up his ethics and values with evidence and commitment. There was no false bones in his body and I believe this is why we bonded from the start. Rest in peace my friend and I will continue to carry your spirit and hope that you are able to look down and get a laugh when I push the buttons of administrators! Love Rick

  17. I was heartbroken to hear the news of Keith’s passing. My thoughts and prayers are with his new family.
    Keith hired me in 2010 while at Clemson University. He was the best boss.. I was his accountant and he
    gave me freedoms that no-one else had. He would tell me “As long as the Job gets done” was all he cared about.. His other quote that he loved to use was “Make it Happen” and never got mad at me if I couldn’t, He always would make you feel like you were important! Even though he lived far away, I still thought of him often and always will. God Bless You Dr. Murphy. RIP

  18. I was shocked and deeply saddened to learn of Keith’s passing. He worked in my lab (though under someone else’s direction) while a postdoc with the USDA,ARS Arthropod-borne Animal Diseases Research Laboratory in Laramie, WY. We became close friends, and spent a lot of time together outside of work. I have so many funny stories I could share, but one in particular always makes me smile. He came over one day with a bunch of coupons he’d gotten somewhere. Coupons for restaurants, car rentals, lodging…all sorts of things. So he suggested we rent a Cadillac and drive to Kansas City to a baseball game, and then go across the street to the Six Flags amusement park where we would ride the Timberwolf (at the time, the steepest roller coaster in the country) as many times as we could. So Keith had all these coupons that we used for everything on this trip. We had a coupon for this really extravagant breakfast one morning that, with the coupon, came to something like $ 2.56 each. So when the cashier was figuring out our bill Keith stopped him before it was rung up and said, “Hold on a second, here! We should only be taxed on the amount of the sale AFTER the coupon deduction! Don’t be trying to pull a fast one on us and figure tax on the entire amount!” Hahahaha… Then when we went to get into our rented Caddy a “shady” guy asked if we could give him a ride, and Keith— without even knowing where he needed to go— said, “Sorry, we aren’t going that way. Maybe another time.” The guy said, “Oh, okay. Maybe another time.” Our entire adventure was like that. And at the baseball game if we’d have been sitting over just one seat Keith would have won a brand new Ford SUV that was being given away! Just one seat to the left! I heard about that the whole way home, of course. Keith called me one day to ask if $50 each was too much to pay for two dogs (Irish Setters) he’d seen advertised in the Laramie Daily Boomerang. I told him that 100 bucks was a pittance compared to what he would spend over the dogs’ lifetime. Well, he bought and loved those dogs, and eventually spent thousands of dollars correcting their hip displasia. And THAT is what prompted Keith to go into the field of canine genetics…the purchase of those two dogs. The descriptions that others have written about Keith are totally accurate…there is really nothing more to add. His scientific contributions were numerous and significant, and those whose lives he touched will always remember him with the fondest of memories. My deepest condolences to his family.

  19. So sorry to hear about Keith Murphy’s passing. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family. He was a brilliant , caring , and giving person. I feel blessed to have known and worked with him when I was an assistant professor at texas a&m university. I was involved in a canine dermatomyositis gene project with keith murphy and leigh Anne Clark which resulted in the us patent for the merle coat gene. This is one of the highlights of my career. He will be dearly missed.

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