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Thomas A. Murphy

For his contributions to the U.S. economy and his support of veterans, Murphy received the Legion's Distinguished Service Medal in 1979.

Fog prevented Murphy - General Motors' chairman and CEO, and a World War II Navy veteran - from flying out of Michigan to attend the convention. Still, National Commander John M. Carey praised him, saying, "Our executive this year has dedicated himself to prosperity of our nation, creating jobs for veterans and the public at large. He has encouraged international trade and has been a leader in improving educational opportunities for the nation's minorities by devoting his leadership and talent."

Upon graduating from the University of Illinois, Murphy went to work as an accounting clerk for General Motors in 1938. He served for three years during World War II, then returned to the company. He was to assistant treasurer, comptroller and treasurer before becoming GM's vice president in 1970. From 1974 to 1980, Murphy was chairman and chief executive officer, and director from 1980 to 1988.

During Murphy's tenure, GM‘s worldwide sales hit an all-time high of 9.55 million cars and trucks in 1978, but he faced serious challenges. The oil embargoes of the 1970s prompted him to push for more fuel-efficient cars, including the European-designed Chevette, and the 1980s brought a greater influx of Japanese imports, hurting GM's bottom line.

Murphy died in 2006, at 90.

For more on Murphy, click here (http://articles.latimes.com/2006/jan/19/local/me-murphy19).

 

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