(MURFREESBORO) Well-known Murfreesboro banker Robert Bell Murfree passed away unexpectedly last Friday (3/3/2023) on the date of his 75th birthday. Family visitation is 2:00-4:00PM this Friday (3/10/2023) at First United Methodist Church (265 W. Thompson Ln.). The Celebration of Life follows at the church.
Bob was born in Murfreesboro and grew-up in this community. He was a 1966 graduate of Central High School.
He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of the South, along with financial degrees from Vanderbilt, LSU and University of Oklahoma.
Murfree's banking career began in 1972, and he went on to found First City Bank in 1985 where he served as President and CEO.
Memories of "Brother"
Bob acquired the nickname "BROTHER", and for his entire life friends referred to him as "BROTHER".
Former Murfreesboro Mayor Tommy Bragg said, "Bob, an exceptional child, little brother and friend to Big Brother, Matt. Carrying a wonderful family tradition to our community. Always in the front of leadership and character to those joining his path as a family man, a banker and continuing to serve the citizens he so loved in his home town and beyond. Hard to let such a servant leave us. He has been the best he could be to us all and will be remembered so fondly for his joy and faithfulness. I’m so saddened at his passing."
Retired Senior Judge Don Ash commented, "Bob was a community hero. His leadership at Mid-South Bank and First City Bank set the standard for community banking. He loved his family, friends and Murfreesboro. I will miss my friend, but thankful for his contributions to Murfreesboro."
Bob Murfree was a regular volunteer at the Journey Home, a non-profit that works to end generational poverty and homelessness. Executive Director Scott Foster noted, "Whether it was serving lunch on Mondays, sharing ideas on ways our homeless friends could move forward, hauling trees in to help put the finishing touches on the building remodel or serving as a board member, Bob Murfree wa a champion for The Journey Home, particularly in the early days that were so crucial. I believe Bob had a love for our community, and his desire to serve helped him grow in caring for others as well. We will miss Bob. He was a good friend. Our prayers are with Betsy and all the family."
Bob was a descendent of many of Rutherford County’s older families through the ancestral lines of both his mother and father. He was the great, great, great grandson of Colonel Hardy Murfree, from whom this city was named.
Bob was also related to Colonel Charles Ready, the name sake of Readyville, Tennessee that lies on the Rutherford and Cannon County line.
In addition, he was the great, great nephew of Civil War boy hero Sam Davis.
Bob is survived by his loving wife of 50 years, Elizabeth “Betsy” Phillips Murfree; his children: Dr. Robert Brickell Murfree and his wife Nikki Lowe Murfree, Dr. John Phillips Murfree, and Virginia “Gina” Murfree DeJean and her husband Grant; and 5 grandchildren.
Robert Bell Murfree was was preceded in death by his parents, the late Dr. Matt B. Murfree, Jr. and Mary Kathryn Bell Murfree, along with his older brother, Matthias Brickell Murfree, III.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Ascension Saint Thomas Rutherford Foundation earmarked for the Robert Bell Murfree Memorial Nursing Scholarship Fund to support nursing education at Ascension Saint Thomas Rutherford Hospital. Please use the Donate button at www.rutherfordfoundation.org to make a memorial gift.