Robert “Bob” Bell Murfree Obituary
Robert “Bob” Bell Murfree, known as “Brother” by his friends, of Murfreesboro, TN, passed away unexpectedly, surrounded by his family, on Friday, March 3, 2023, his 75th birthday. He was born in Rutherford County, TN, to the late Dr. Matthias Brickell Murfree, Jr., and Mary Kathryn Bell Murfree. 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 Newman DeJean; his grandchildren: Samuel Hardy Murfree, Hugh Hardy Murfree, William Murfree DeJean, Elizabeth Kirtley DeJean, and James Brickell Murfree DeJean; and beloved nephews Matthias Brickell “Bricke” Murfree IV and Paul Davis Murfree. In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his older brother, Matthias Brickell Murfree, III.
He was descended from many of the oldest families of Rutherford County, Tennessee, through both his mother and father. He was the great-great-great grandson of Colonel Hardy Murfree, for whom the town was named, and Colonel Charles Ready, for whom the community Readyville was named. He was also the great great nephew of Sam Davis, the Boy Hero of the Confederacy, as well as a descendant of three former mayors of Murfreesboro.
Bob was a 1966 graduate of Central High School and earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of the South at Sewanee in 1970. He was a graduate of the School of Banking of the South at Louisiana State University, the Tennessee Banking School at Vanderbilt University, and the Commercial Lending School at the University of Oklahoma. He served in the Tennessee National Guard from 1970-1976, where he was staff sergeant. Bob started his banking career in 1972, going on to found First City Bank in 1985, where he served as President and CEO until the bank was acquired in 1996. He then assumed the City President position of First Tennessee and later was the City President of AmSouth Bank. Murfree retired in 2004 after 32 years of Banking.
Bob served his community in many roles, including the Board of Trustees of the University of the South, the St. Thomas Rutherford Foundation (formerly the MTMC Foundation), President of the Oaklands Mansion Board of Trustees, 1987 graduate of Leadership Rutherford, and founding member of the Old Man’s Basketball League and the MTSU’s 6th Man Club. Bob was passionate about the volunteer work he did for the Journey Home, First United Methodist Church disaster relief team and mission trips and most recently for Ascension St. Thomas Hospital. He was a member of the Silver Circle of Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity and the Society of the Cincinnati, and he was an ASTR Foundation Rutherford Society Lifetime Member. Bob was an avid runner and enjoyed reading books about history and the Florida Keys. He was a faithful member of First United Methodist Church. In his retirement, Bob was a creative gardener and loved being outdoors, fishing in Orange Beach, Alabama, spending time on Monteagle Mountain, and traveling with his family.
Known for his sense of humor and contagious smile, Bob’s personality was defined by optimism, patience, loyalty, and kindness. He served as friend and mentor to many, generously sharing his business acumen and sound advice. Bob was the central figure of the Murfree family. Always present and involved in the activities of his children and grandchildren, “Bob Bob” was devoted to each of them and enjoyed them tremendously. Some of his favorite memories were his trips to Disney World with his grandchildren, whom he spoke of with great pride.
Visitation with the family will be Friday, March 10, 2023, from 2:00 pm until 4:00 pm at First United Methodist Church. A Celebration of Life will be held Friday, March 10, 2023 at 4:00 PM at First United Methodist Church.
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. Or, checks may be sent to:
Ascension Saint Thomas Rutherford Foundation
1700 Medical Center Parkway
Murfreesboro, TN 37129
Or to the Benevolence Fund at First United Methodist Church. Donate at https://fumcm.org to make a memorial gift. Or, checks may be sent to:
First United Methodist Church
265 West Thompson Lane
Murfreesboro, TN 37129
An online guestbook is available for the family at www.woodfinchapel.com.