When he was an advance man on Hubert Humphrey's presidential campaign, Kingsley Murphy Jr. had one rule for everyone working with him.
"Nobody sleeps and nobody eats."
Twice in the 1960s, he set aside his career as a broadcasting executive to dive into the frenzy of a national campaign.
But after Humphrey lost the presidential race in 1968, Murphy gave up the campaign trail for good, said his wife, Katherine.
Campaign work, she said, "is a young man's job." And Murphy had plenty of other passions to keep him busy.
Murphy, a Democratic fundraiser, philanthropist and onetime part-owner of the Star Tribune, died of a stroke Nov. 19 at age 84. He had suffered from dementia for several years.
Murphy was born in 1930 into one of Minnesota's earliest newspaper dynasties — his family owned the Minneapolis Tribune for half a century, from 1891 to 1941, and his grandfather, William, and great-uncle, Fredrick, were among its publishers.
By the 1980s, Murphy would sell his family's remaining shares in the Star Tribune's parent company, Cowles Media Co., after a highly public feud with Cowles family members.
But he spent much of his career in radio, and served on several civic boards, including the Guthrie Theater, the Minneapolis Institute of Arts and the Metropolitan Council, in addition to creating his own charitable foundation.
Murphy, who graduated from Harvard and Columbia universities, was pursuing a master's degree in history when "he was thrown into the broadcasting business," according to his wife. He was just 22 when he inherited two small radio stations from his father, who had died suddenly.
Murphy discovered that he loved radio work, said Cecily Majerus, one of his daughters. In the 1950s, she said, he even voiced some of the commercials himself.
By 1964, he had become a prominent Democratic supporter, and took a leave of absence to volunteer on Humphrey's vice-presidential campaign. That fall, Murphy and his wife played host to the president's teenage daughter, Luci Baines Johnson, at a political party fundraiser at their Lake Minnetonka home.
During the next presidential campaign, he was back in action as "one of the most experienced members" of Humphrey's advance team, according to a 1968 front-page story in the New York Times.
The article, by famed political writer R.W. Apple, described Murphy as a "low pressure operative who seldom raises his voice," and who could be seen "puffing furiously on his pipe" while trying to stage-manage a campaign visit in Pittsburgh.
"He loved doing it," said Majerus. While that was his last campaign, she noted, the family kept up the tradition: His son Barrett later worked on two presidential campaigns, and granddaughter Katherine Johnson became President Obama's personal secretary.
As a minority shareholder in Cowles Media Co., Murphy served on its board of directors during a tumultous period from 1973 to 1985, which included a 27-day strike by newsroom workers, the merger of its afternoon and morning newspapers and several rounds of layoffs and forced resignations. In January 1985, Murphy filed a $40 million lawsuit against members of the Cowles family trust, the majority stockholders, accusing them of mismanaging the newspaper and driving down its stock value. The dispute ended with the sale of his family's stock to the Washington Post in March 1985.
In addition to his wife and daughter Cecily, Murphy is survived by sons Kingsley and Barrett, daughter Georgia Johnson and seven grandchildren. Services have been held.