Susie McMurry Was a Quiet Force of Nature

woman and man standing together
Susie and Mick McMurry. (UW Foundation photo)

Susie McMurry and her husband Mick “built a better Wyoming” and a better UW.

 By Tamara Linse

Susie McMurry’s life can be measured by the immense hole that has been left in her wake — she always thought of others first. She was a teacher, a philanthropist, a wife, a grandmother, and a dedicated and kind-hearted member of her community. The philanthropy of Susie and her husband, Mick, has built a better Wyoming — and a better University of Wyoming — which was always their goal. Her passing in January is a deep loss for the state.

“Our University of Wyoming family mourns the loss of Susie McMurry, whose extraordinary generosity has had a profound and positive impact on this university and the state of Wyoming,” says President Ed Seidel. “We all know the McMurry name is synonymous with ‘building a better Wyoming,’ and Susie’s transformational support of UW has been life-changing for so many students on our campus.” 

Susie’s Life

McMurry was a quiet force of nature. She was “an incredible combination of strength, courage, grace and dignity with a witty sense of humor who made a lifelong commitment to serving others” (as mentioned in a tribute to her life).

“Susie McMurry was a special friend and an extraordinary person,” says UW Foundation President/CEO John Stark. “Her generosity of spirit, her commitment to helping others and her enduring love for her family will always be an inspiration.”

Susan Kay (Warburton) McMurry grew up in Elk Mountain and Hanna, with what she called “a wonderful childhood.” Her parents ran a motel and gas station, with the whole family pitching in with the cooking and housekeeping.

McMurry attended Casper College to earn an associates degree in education and then to UW to earn a bachelor’s in elementary education with a minor in vocal music. She taught first grade at Crest Hill Elementary in Casper and supported and volunteered for numerous organizations. She also served as a Court Appointed Special Advocate for Natrona County.

She met Mick McMurry on blind date, and in 1973 they married. Together, Susie and Mick raised two daughters, Trudi and Jillian, and fostered countless children. Together, they were a powerhouse of community and philanthropic support.

“Susie paid it forward in the most extraordinary ways, and Wyoming’s university is better because of her dedication to giving back to her alma mater,” says UW Foundation Board Chair Mary Shafer-Malicki. “Her life’s work was about helping others and making a difference — a legacy that will live on for generations."

Her husband Mick grew up in Casper, earned a business administration degree from UW and served in Vietnam, and then he and his brother Vic founded McMurry Brothers Construction, which served Wyoming transportation needs. 

Then Mick joined his father, along with John Martin, to form McMurry Oil Co. They developed the Jonah oil and gas field. After that company was sold to Alberta Energy Co., he formed McMurry Energy, which was sold to Shell. McMurry then founded Nerd Gas Co.

In 1998, the couple founded the McMurry Foundation, which supports education, religion, children and advocacy for children, health and human services, the arts and humanities, and favorable business environments. The impact of their support can be seen across Casper and across the state.

“Susie was an inspiration to us all,” says UW Director of Athletics Tom Burman. “She cared so honestly about people and about how they were doing — truly one of the most loving people I have ever met.” 

Impact on UW

The McMurrys’ philanthropy at UW has included the Marian H. Rochelle Gateway Center, UW Athletics, the UW College of Business, the UW College of Education, the University Plaza and Conference Center, UW-Casper, the UW School of Nursing, the UW College of Law and the Wyoming Technology Business Center.

“The philanthropy of Susie — together with her beloved late husband Mick and the McMurry Foundation — changed the physical landscape of UW,” says Seidel. “Susie made a lot of dreams come true on this campus. We will be forever grateful for her commitment to UW. She was truly a difference-maker.”

Especially close to Susie’s heart was their support of Western Thunder Marching Band, students of nursing and UW’s student-athletes.

“Susie’s passionate support of the Western Thunder Marching Band continues to offer UW students a top-notch collegiate marching band experience and the opportunity to make lasting musical memories while proudly representing the Brown and Gold,” says Joseph Carver, director of Western Thunder Marching Band. “Susie was the first member of the band’s Hat Club and is one of the reasons that our uniform features our classic cowboy hat. We will remember her ear-to-ear smile and welcoming hug as the band would play for her. The band brought her such joy. We will miss her tremendously.”

“The Fay W. Whitney School of Nursing has been blessed by the support of the McMurry family and the McMurry Foundation to support the school’s mission to improve, protect and promote health,” says Sherrill J. Smith, dean of the Fay W. Whitney School of Nursing. “We are especially appreciative of the funding for a faculty member and professional development to support mental health education for our students and our practice partners in Wyoming. In addition, our BRAND second-degree students have benefitted from the generosity of the McMurry family for scholarships and financial support for their success to take on a new career as a professional nurse.”

“Susie had an impact on UW Athletics and its student-athletes that was profound,” says Burman. “During COVID, she became concerned about their mental health and well-being and wanted to make sure we were doing everything possible to support their needs. She and Mick made Wyoming a better place to live and, for that, we should all be grateful.”

“Susie was one of UW’s most amazing supporters but, more than that, she was one of the most gracious and kind people I’ve ever known,” says Stark. “We are all blessed to have known Susie, and the impact she made with her philanthropy is simply remarkable.”

“On behalf of the UW Foundation Board, we express our lasting gratitude and deepest condolences to the McMurry family,” says Shafer-Malicki.

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