South Sound Region Awards and Honors

The George Francis Train commemorative and Thun Field FAA Award.

“12th Annual George Francis Train International Business CommemorativeThe Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber of Commerce has presented the 12th annual George Francis Train International Business Commemorative to Murray Pacific Corporation.The award was given to Murray Pacific president L. T. (Tom) Murray, Jr. by David Graybill, chamber president and CEO, at the World Trade Center Tacoma Recognition Banquet, Monday, May 1. Murray Pacific Corporation, a third-generation enterprise, began as the West Fork Logging Co. in 1911 and became the West Fork Timber Company in 1913. The company’s fine-grained higher elevation hemlock resulted in the first shipments of high-grade hemlock to Japan.L.T. Murray, Sr., who ran the firm until 1970, pioneered selective logging and contracted its timberland to St. Regis Paper Company. L.T. Murray, Jr., who succeeded his father, purchased Pan Pacific Trading Company in 1972. Initially handling logs for the Weyerhaeuser Company, Murray Pacific soon began to buy and sell on its own account. In the late ’70s, land holdings were sold and the tree farm and log export operation combined to form the Murray Pacific Timber Products Division. Japan was the first and remains the largest market for the division. MP also exports to Korea and China. The timber products division owes much of its success since the early ’80s to the leadership of Toby Murray, who has weathered a shrinking supply of exportable wood, and also faced more stringent environmental requirements.The firm was the first to develop and adopt a habitat conservation plan for spotted owls in 1993, and then for all species in 1995. L.T. Murray, Sr. established the Murray Foundation in 1952, contributing to the community’s private schools and creating the Murray Scholarship for first-generation health care students at Tacoma Community College. In 1971, the Murray Foundation purchased the present building for the Tacoma Art Museum and is a major donor in TAM’s fundraising campaign for a new facility.The Helen B. Murray Oncology Foundation, the Camp Six logging exhibit at Pt. Defiance Park and the Mount Rainier Scenic Railroad are among the community projects the foundation has backed. The George Francis Train International Business Commemorative was developed in recognition of the tremendous local growth in international business and its significant economic and cultural contribution to the community. The award honors an individual or organization making a significant contribution to the international business community of Tacoma-Pierce County.The award commemorates George Francis Train, a legendary Boston Yankee who had a special place in his heart for Tacoma. Train was a partner in the family firm that ran White Diamond shipping line, commissioning the world’s fastest clipper, the Flying Cloud.He was the most prominent promoter in the organization of the Union Pacific and of the transcontinental railway, officiating at the groundbreaking in Omaha and claiming credit for selecting Tacoma as the western terminus of the Northern Pacific Railroad. He was also a prominent backer of womens’ right to vote.Train also coined Tacoma’s nickname, The City of Destiny.Train, who circumnavigated the globe four times, may well have been the original inspiration for Jules Verne’s character Phileas Fogg in his classic, Around the World in 80 Days.Later, after the book became popular, journalist Nellie Bly beat the 80-day record.Then, Train decided that leaving from – and returning to Tacoma – would be the fastest route around the world.Starting from Ninth and Broadway in downtown Tacoma on March 18, 1890, he returned to the City of Destiny on May 24, making the round-the-world trip in 67 days, 13 hours.A plaque commemorating the point of departure/return is near the Knights of Pythias Building on Broadway.Pierce County’s Thun Field Gets FAA AwardThe Pierce County Airport (Thun Field) received an Achievement Award from the Federal Aviation Administration’s Northwest Mountain Region. The award was one of five presented in the region, which contains 646 public use airports.The award cites the airport, located south of Puyallup, for enthusiasm and perseverance in improving the safety and capacity of general aviation facilities. Pierce County Public Works and Utilities’ Transportation Services Division under the direction of airport administrator Bob Snyder operates the airport. The airport operation has made great strides the last several years under the direction of Bob Snyder and with the support of Bruce Thun. It has become a self-sustaining operation and a positive influence in the community it serves. This award recognizes the extraordinary efforts that have been made, and the recognition is appreciated by everyone who has been involved, said Executive Doug Sutherland.Thun, son of the airport’s namesake, manages the facility. The Washington State Department of Transportation’s Airport Division in 1996 named Thun Airport Manager of the Year.Snyder said the Pierce County executive and council have given the airport exceptional support by providing additional dollars through the real estate excise tax and by developing and approving a new airport county code.We are quite proud to have been chosen out of such an impressive list of regional airports, Snyder said. The support of Pierce County’s elected officials and supervisory staff was instrumental in creating the opportunity to receive this significant recognition.”

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