SAN FRANCISCO (AdAge.com) -- At the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo. last night, an estimated 1,000 people turned out to honor the life of Thomas Murphy, a Sprint marketing executive who passed away a week ago following a car accident.
Mr. Murphy had been driving near Aspen with his family as they headed home to Kansas City following a vacation in Colorado. A boulder fell from the mountainside and struck the family's car, piercing the windshield and killing Mr. Murphy instantly.
The 45-year-old VP-corporate brand marketing played a key role in forming the carrier's partnerships with Nascar and the NFL. Sprint hired Mr. Murphy in 1996 as its director-public relations; he was later promoted to VP-public relations and then senior VP-corporate communications. Following the Nextel merger, Mr. Murphy held several VP roles overseeing sponsorships and corporate brand marketing.
"I'm not sure if I saw anyone who wanted us to succeed more than Tom," said Mike Goff, a marketing executive at Sprint who was Mr. Murphy's peer and his close friend of 13 years. "He was competitive and passionate about the company."
Of his personal life, Mr. Goff said Mr. Murphy was a "people person. He had an incredible life balance. He touched a lot of people at Sprint with his upbeat attitude. He was also very involved in the community, philanthropically."
Last night's memorial service for Mr. Murphy culminated in a "Celebration of Life" program, during which event organizers played videos featuring NFL and Nascar luminaries who paid tribute to Mr. Murphy. Among those who honored him were NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Nascar CEO Brian France. Mr. France attended Mr. Murphy's visitation service Wednesday evening, and the NFL sent representatives to yesterday's funeral.
It was unclear whether Sprint would fill the role left vacant by Mr. Murphy. A Sprint representative referred all media requests to a third-party communications agency handling press inquiries on behalf of Mr. Murphy's family.
Mr. Murphy is survived by his wife Jennifer; his sons, Ethan Thomas, John "Jack" Vincent and Thomas "Tommy" Edward IV, of Kansas City; and his brother, David Warren Murphy of Alhambra, Calif.