Each time I meet up with Murri Bishop, I admire her even more. Murri is the ultimate "caretaker" who looks after everyone in her circle; she speaks from the heart and has great compassion for others.
Murri was born as the 10th child of 12 children in her family and reared in the Southern part of Colorado. She has 4 sisters and 3 brothers living today. The consumate loving and devoted parents to two daughters Chris Ann 23 and Katey 19 (and two precious pets a Bichon Frise - Bailey age 12, and a rescue Maltese mix - George - age 16 and now blind), Murri and her husband Andy, the CFO of Hallador Energy, are a tight-knit family and are all about spending time together.
Murri is a master gardener, an avid University of Oklahoma football fan, a member of several book clubs, loves to play Bridge; and she worked in the corporate world for over 25 years before retiring to become the super nurturing mom and wife she is today.
Many charitable organizations are lucky this exceptional lady shares her nurturing ways with them through her dedicated involvement. Murri Bishop has a strong inner emotional resilence that has served her and others well. With plenty of love in her heart and gratefulness for the life she and her family have, Murri moves optimistically towards the future with faith and enthusiasm!
What are some of the organizations you are involved with now?
Fine Arts Foundation: I am or have served as a board member and Fine Arts Foundation Have served as President Elect, President, Debutante Ball Co-Chair, Debutante Ball Chair, directed the Fashion Show 4 times, Assistant Vice President of Development, Assistant Vice President of Membership and Debutante Ball Advisor.
Church of the Risen Christ: Former Religious Education teacher - I taught for over 10 years - grades 1-5, currently run the Social Bridge group. (32 couples play social bridge once per month at the church).
Anchor Center for Blind Children: Board member, and on the Programs committee. Have hosted tables for main fundraiser, Sunset in the Country and assisted in planning Dancing with the Anchors and the monthly Respite Night, a parents night out function. Anchor partners with Denver School of Nursing to watch Anchor students and siblings; allowing parents to enjoy a night out at a movie or dinner.
Delta Gamma: Alumni member.
Denver Athletic Club: Co-Chair of the Social Committee. Plan and organize large and small member events. Directed DAC 100th anniversary Fashion Show in November with 20 member models. Partnered with 17 Cherry Creek North stores, William Whatley( international celebrity stylist (has done shows with Cavalli and other top designers), TeaZe Salon and Simply Moore. Partnered with Denver Center for the Performing Arts to feature several period costumes that coincided with significant events in the Club’s history. Chairing tour of the Cartier exhibit with reception featuring the exhibit curator in late January.
Denver Center Alliance: Member, Hospitality committee and Saturday Night Alive auction committee.
When did you know you would love being involved with all the fine arts in Colorado?
I was fortunate to work in the exciting Broadband industry. There were many mergers and acquisitions and I worked for AT&T Broadband when it was acquired by Comcast. My last assignment was to complete the layoffs of employees not retained by Comcast and then to lay myself off. After ending a very long career in Human Resources I took some time to contemplate my own “Act 2”.
I love gardening and that Spring I planted over 1000 bulbs in my yard. I loved being outside in the middle of the day and living in shorts and flip flops. I applied for the Colorado State University classes and became a Colorado Master Gardener. I volunteered at the City Park Greenhouse, Cherry Creek Farmers Market gardening information booth, Samaritan Shelter, Plantapalooza sale, and the City and County gardens. I knew I loved volunteering.
I also knew I loved the arts and wanted to become involved with an organization that focused on the arts. I attended a Fine Arts Foundation membership luncheon and have been hooked ever since. I have met many wonderful, talented and capable people because of our shared interest that I might never have met before. I found a new community of friends.
You have been very active with Fine Arts Foundation. How important do you think it is to carry on the tradition of the Debutante program?
Both of my daughters were FAF Debutantes. They enjoyed the experience and treasure the memories. Let me first say, it is more than just the big white dress. I’m aware that some regard this as elitist and even silly. Fine Arts Foundation is a 100% volunteer organization. No staff, no offices, no wages paid out to anyone. The mission is to enrich life in Colorado by supporting the arts. This organization of dedicated volunteers raises money to give back to the arts community in the form of grants to large and small arts organizations in Colorado. The Debutante Ball is but one of the fundraisers that generates these monies. High School seniors are nominated, selected and honored because they are outstanding students, athletes and leaders. Most are heavily involved in their communities, schools, religious organizations. They set themselves apart from their high school peers by being exemplary. They are leaders recognized by their schools, teachers, teams and friends.
FAF has been privileged to present National Merit Scholars, valedictorians, many Debutantes graduated with honors, lettered in multiple sports, received academic letters, won regional, state and national recognition in Poms, Cheer, dance, speech and debate, DECA, and sports to name a few. Many were awarded academic and sports scholarships. Most spend countless hours volunteering with organizations whose missions help children, persons with disabilities, underserved communities, the homeless, people in crisis, hospitals and the arts. In the year these young women are Debutantes they learn the value of life long philanthropy, community service and volunteerism. The Ball celebrates their scholastic achievement and their accomplishments in sports, community and extracurricular activities. Every year the selected group of young women is high achieving, ambitious and driven to achievement and excellence . Is being a Debutante their only claim to fame? Absolutely not.
They go on to the next phase of their lives and become high flyers in business, healthcare, the arts etc. They have the memories of a magical part of their senior year being a Debutante, but also carry the responsibility of carrying on the spirit of our organization by supporting the arts and giving back to their communities as adults. The value of the Debutante program is this - celebrating women of high accomplishment and distinction and passing on the tradition of volunteerism and the passion for the arts.
How has the program changed through the years… And have the Debutantes changed?
Fundamentally no. We have a long tradition of only honoring young accomplished women. We allow them to select their own escorts, but the focus is always on them. It is so magical to see the evening where each Debutante revels in their own spotlight. All of the Debutantes are highly accomplished, smart, talented young women. We are delighted every year with the caliber of the young women that are selected. Once the class is announced the year progresses and culminates in a wonderful crescendo under a magical white tent on a beautiful summer evening. It’s like music, really.
What positive effects have you noticed in girls since they were Debs?
At the Debutante Ball this past summer I was speaking with a Debutante mother that commented that she really had to coax her daughter to participate. She was very shy and introverted and did not want to be involved. This mother said the transformation the family witnessed in her over the year was incredible. She had become this strong, self confident young woman that was totally owning who she was. She was a National Merit scholar, accomplished musician and blossomed during the year. They noticed her increased confidence as she owned the stage at the Fashion Show. It was a wonderful compliment and the value the experience has for its participants.
Besides the FAF events, what are some of the other events you enjoy attending each year?
Sunset in the Country- major fundraiser for Anchor Center for Blind Children. It’s under a big tent and each table host is responsible for decorating their own table and inviting their guests. It raises money for all the incredible activities that the fabulous staff at Anchor Center do to enrich the lives of children and families affected by sight impairment. It also is especially fun to have my daughters help me decorate and set up the table.
Saturday Night Alive- Theatre Threads, Hattitude
Denver Athletic Club parties, the Parade of Lights party-always a great viewing spot inside and warm or on the bleachers outside the club. I especially like the summer parties on the rooftop and the special events like the Cartier exhibit event.
This year for my twenty fifth wedding anniversary, my husband, Andy surprised me with a Wellendorf angel ring. We were on our way to an OU (Oklahoma) football watch party when he decided to take a detour to a jewelry store in Cherry Creek North. We walked in and the woman at the counter greeted him and said hello to me by name too. I was so surprised I started to cry.
The ring has significance because I saw an ad in the United inflight magazine many years ago on our way somewhere. It detailed a story of a woman finding an amulet on a beach in Denmark. The amulet had an angel engraved on the front and some initials on the back. She inquired in the town if anyone lost the item. Not finding its owner she began wearing the necklace and it soon became her prized possession. Years later she was home in Munich and enjoying a drink in a local bar. A gentleman noticed her necklace and commented on it. They began talking and when it came time for him to leave he said he had given something similar to his wife on their wedding day. She had since passed away. He then handed her his business card. She looked at it and realized the initials were the same as the ones on the back of the amulet and he was from Denmark. Quickly she took it off and gave it to him knowing she had found the owner. He thanked her and said he would replace it with something else. They exchanged contact information and he left. Sad that she gave up her prized possession she never-the-less was happy it was now with its rightful owner.
In the following weeks they corresponded - this happened a very long time ago - way before cell phones and texts etc. Anyway, he returned to Munich sometime later and invited her to dinner. At dinner he proposed marriage and she threw caution to the wind and accepted. Though her family thought she was crazy she followed her heart and the best part of the story is that she wrote this letter to the Wellendorf Jewelry Company after celebrating 28 years of marriage! Being a sucker for a smaltzy story, I cried and loved the ring that the company created commemorating this cute love story. I leaned over and mentioned it to Andy. He sniffed and gave me a look like he was only half listening. Imagine my surprise seeing that very ring he’d purchased for me?!
The interior of the ring has an angel inside. Andy said he wanted to give me this ring because I am his and our daughters’ guardian angel. It is totally handmade and regarded as unique as a Faberge egg. I love it- It is my most valued possession.
How do we get our young people involved with the arts?
I took my own children to plays, concerts, performances. They both took dance lessons from age 3. They became pretty good at it too. They also had piano lessons. I now take my young nieces to plays, the art museums, galleries, concerts. I also think it is important to support tickets for under served communities so children that do not have opportunity to see a play or hear an orchestra can be exposed to the beauty and value of art. Through FAF grants our grantees have outreach programs that do just that. I think exposure to the arts can awaken interest and talent.
With so much emphasis on youth and looking young these days, how does a woman in her 40s, 50s, and up stay involved , viable and appreciated?
Trite as it may seem- I think people appreciate a genuine and authentic person. Genuine spirit, attitude, appearance. Authenticity, confidence and a genuine smile is always a winning combination.
Do you and your husband have a favorite vacation spot?
We (Andy, Murri, Katey, Chris Ann and mother-in-law, LaVere) go to Puerto Vallarta every year for two weeks. We especially like going during Restaurant Week. From restaurants on the beach to one high atop a cliff watching the sun go down- there is no better vacation! Simply our own little paradise!
What’s in the future for Murri Bishop? Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?
I hope my life is pretty much the same as it is now. I am blessed to have a wonderful and loving husband, smart, lovely daughters and a pretty good life. I give thanks everyday for all the abundance I experience, good health, great friends and family.
Is there a book you have read that is a favorite?
I was a bookworm from a very early age. Because I read a lot, surely I can not pick one. I’m in 2 book clubs so I read many books. I read all the time on my Kindle or iPad. One or the other is usually near me.
Actually, some of my favorite books are cookbooks- not exactly the same- but I find it hard to resist cookbooks in bookstores and own quite a few!
Something most people don’t know about me?
I Co Chair the Arapahoe County Liquor Board. This group is responsible for holding formal hearings to review and approve/decline applications for liquor licenses for restaurants, retail stores and other establishments and work with county officials on disciplinary actions relating to complaints, violations etc.
Second- most people do not know that I have been underground in a coal mine. It is remarkable to see how safely coal is extracted and processed. I have huge respect for the men that go underground to mine this fuel source. I also recently got to meet country music sensation, Jimmy Rose whose song “Coal Keeps the Lights On” is a favorite. He is a former coal miner and decorated veteran.
What can always make you laugh?
Funny shows like Modern Family, Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Curb Your Enthusiasm
During football season- watching OU football on Saturdays, professional football games from Thursday night , Sunday and Monday night, especially the Red Zone! My family members participate in several football pools so it important and fun to keep track of all the games. We are big sports fans. We like Rockies games in the summer, football always and follow OKC Thunder in basketball.
In the summer I like to go to the farmers market, garden, walk on the highline canal with my husband, sit on my back wrap around porch and read or relax with friends.
I like to have friends over for dinner on the weekends too. Also love to play bridge.
How do I want to be remembered?
As a good wife, mom, sister and friend.