GILBERT GRAY MURDOCH
June 9, 1920 - Nov. 2, 1996
By: Hank Levy
Some of you may have noticed Gilbert Murdoch's name listed as Associate Publisher of The Jewish Post since April, 1991.
Gil Murdoch was a man who held many titles throughout his life, but the one that I will always remember him by, in a very personal way, is friend.
Gil was a remarkable person and I would like to tell you about him. He deserves to be remembered and written about just as much as those who read this deserve to understand about the life of a man from whom we can draw admiration and inspiration.
Gil always believed that each day of his life was a precious gift. As one of only ten survivors of his group of GI's that landed on Omaha Beach on D-Day, June 6, 1944, he had every right to feel this way. He was written about in several books covering D-Day during the Second World War. He had an excellent recall of details. Many of his friends in battle remained lifelong friends. As a sergeant, he displayed leadership and heroism under the most trying conditions. His love of country, devotion to duty and comrades in arms, and his intelligence, stubbornness, determination and true grit has stood him in good stead through that battle and many others he fought throughout his life.
Gil had a passion for knowledge, a gift of gab and was a man who would argue for his principles, philosophy and ideas. Any opponent had best be prepared because Gil always was.
He graduated from City College with a degree in marketing. He was fascinated with the entire sales process including all aspects of marketing and advertising. His entire life he was a student of these exciting fields. He was to become not only a teacher of them, but a master of them as well.
To give you an idea of just how focused, dedicated and determined Gil was, let me tell you of one of his first jobs after college. He worked as a salesman for a car dealership in Southern Queens. He was told that out of nearly 100 applicants for the job, only two would be kept on after the first year. The fact that Gil was one of those that performed excellent enough to be selected as one of the two people was a testament to his sales ability. However, when you understand that during this entire period of time Gil had polio, was restricted to a wheelchair and was pushed door to door by his wife, Ruth, as he attempted to make his sales, then one can only marvel at his achievement.
Gil recovered from his bout with polio. He went on to hold many positions of leadership in the publishing and advertising fields. He was the premier salesperson at the now defunct Long Island Press, where he sold more financial advertising than his famous rival, The New York Times.
Even more remarkable was the fact that Murdoch was the only non-Jew to run the advertising department of the orthodox Jewish Press and the only non-black to run the advertising department of The Amsterdam News. He was brought into The Amsterdam News during a period when the entire ad department was on strike. He not only stood up to the taunts and threats of those picketing the Harlem-based paper, but with only three additional salespeople, outsold what a department of 11 people had previously achieved.
Gil was among the most productive account executives at several respectable Madison Avenue advertising agencies. His ability to analyze the businesses he represented, determine how they can best and most affordably reach their customers and help create effective advertising that told his clients' stories were just a few of the talents he brought to his tasks. He viewed each situation as a battle for market share and he was always prepared for battle - to do otherwise meant a chance of defeat and that is something he would never accept lightly.
He had a very special role as Associate Publisher of The Jewish Post. He was involved from the first moment, 4 1/2 years ago when the paper was for sale, in analyzing the prospects of revitalizing a publication with a proud history, that was published infrequently, had no editorial staff and minimal circulation. Murdoch developed a controlled circulation plan which has led to approximately 400 carefully chosen synagogues, Jewish centers, Y's and Jewish organizations where the paper is available.
His input covered all areas from editorials to personnel policies, plus a full range of advertising, marketing and promotional ideas. Gil's ill health never stopped him from focusing on the problems we faced. On the contrary, it energized him as he willed himself to focus on solutions to each situation he was presented with.
Work was only one aspect of the man. He made his mark in other arenas as well. When Gil was a youth, he joined a naval cadet organization for young men (The American Cadet Alliance). This group had been established prior to the Boy Scouts of America and was more rigorous. He rose through the ranks, first as a cadet, then an officer and he was finally chosen to be the national commandant and leader of the organization. Gil built it up to several thousand members throughout the east coast and was respected by some of the top brass in the U.S. Navy. Among the routines and disciplines he enacted, Gil helped many tough youths to straighten out and develop a pride in themselves and a love of their country.
Murdoch was also an expect canine trainer and had a love for fast cars. His forte was in interpersonal relations. He got a lot out of relationships because he put so much into them...especially his thoughts and opinions. And there was never an ulterior motive - he was just a good neighbor, friend, co-worker, father, husband, son, brother and human being.
Gil loved his wife...his companion for over 50 years. One example of this dates back over 50 years, to his experience on Omaha Beach. Gil was wounded and one of his buddies suggested that they both take off their gear and helmets, leave them behind and head back into water, away from the gunfire. Gil resisted leaving his helmet adamantly. It turned out he had placed a photo of his wife, Ruth, in the helmet and did not want to leave it behind for that reason.
Gilbert Murdoch was a complete human being. He was a good family man and a heroic American. He did his duty within his family, his community and his country. His word was his bond and he could always be counted on. He was a man's man and a true American patriot. Those of us he touched will hopefully pass along some of Gilbert's finest qualities and that will benefit some of those we touch. It is a pity more people could not have known him because he was truly remarkable and we salute him.
Gilbert Murdoch is survived by his wife Ruth, his son David, daughter-in-law Linda, brother Walter and his grandchildren Scott and Kenneth.
Return to News ArchivesBack to Top