Alumni

John Murphy

John Murphy (’84, ’86 M.M.), 60, Professor Emeritus of jazz history and former chair of the Division of Jazz Studies, died March 8.

He taught at UNT from 2001 to 2020, serving as chair of jazz studies for 11 years. He designed the jazz major for the D.M.A. in performance and taught jazz history, research methods, styles and analysis, as well as serving on thesis committees in the ethnomusicology area. He was chair of the Division of Music History, Theory and Ethnomusicology from 2006 to 2008.

An ethnomusicologist, he was an expert on Brazilian music and the author of Music in Brazil (Oxford University Press). He published many articles on jazz improvisation and Brazilian traditional and popular music and was awarded Fulbright and National Endowment for the Humanities fellowships for research in Brazil.

It was as he finished his degrees in jazz performance studies and music theory at UNT that he discovered his love for teaching, and he went on to earn a master’s and a Ph.D. in ethnomusicology from Columbia University, with a focus on Cuban and Brazilian music.

He taught at Western Illinois University before joining the faculty at UNT, and was known for his unwavering support of students and colleagues.

In 2019, he co-founded UNT’s Neurodiversity Initiative, which includes training, research, an employee resource group, and other programs and resources to support neurodivergent faculty, staff and students.

As a student at UNT, he was a member of the One O’Clock Lab Band, and he continued to perform in the DFW area, playing jazz on tenor saxophone and Irish traditional music on button accordion.

Survivors include his wife, Genene, also retired from UNT, and children Jack (TAMS '06), Peter and Gillian ('15, '18 M.Ed.).

A memorial service is scheduled at 11 a.m. May 7 at the First United Methodist Church in Denton, with a reception following off-site.

Memorials may be made to the John Murphy Scholarship Endowment for Jazz Studies online (in the "Area of Support," select "The John Murphy Scholarship Endowment for Jazz Studies") or by check — list "John Murphy Endowment" in the memo line and mail to University of North Texas; University Advancement, Gift Administration; 1155 Union Circle #311250; Denton, TX 76203.

Franklin Russell Snow

Franklin Russell Snow (’62), Pampa. As a student at North Texas, he ran on the track team under Winton “Pop” Noah and joined the Geezles. After graduating with an administrative management degree, he worked in the oil industry as a technical advisor and administrator for companies and was a private consultant to the oil industry until his retirement in 2016. His hobby was golf.

George ‘Joe’ V. Atkinson Jr.

George ‘Joe’ V. Atkinson Jr. (’76), Victoria. He spent his entire adult life helping people and serving his community as a law enforcement officer for 22 years, a member of the Golden Crescent Regional Planning Commission and a volunteer for Habitat for Humanity. He was an avid sports fan and supporter of anything UNT. For his last game, he watched the Mean Green’s overtime, come-from-behind victory against Rice in November. He loved the Mean Green and the “Not So Mean Green,” as he affectionately called them during any downtimes.

David Compton

David Compton (’49 M.S.), Athens, Georgia. He taught chemistry at West Texas A&M University, Colorado School of Mines and Prescott College in Arizona, and he also worked as a technical writer and editor. He wrote NASA's official history of Skylab in 1974 and one of the Apollo histories at Johnson Space Center's History Office. He wrote the chapter on NASA and space sciences in 100 Years of Science and Technology in Texas in 1986, published by Sigma Xi for its centenary and Texas' sesquicentennial. He was a writer/editor at the Los Alamos National Laboratory until he retired in 1993. He attended North Texas after receiving his bachelor’s degree from Texas A&M University and serving as a Navy Aviation Radioman 3rd Class during World War II. He met the late Jane Walker (’50) at North Texas, and they married in 1950. He then earned his Ph.D. in chemistry at the University of Texas at Austin in 1956. He received an M.Sc. in the history of technology from Imperial College in London in 1972.

Elton (Tony) E. Clark

Elton (Tony) E. Clark (’57), Sherman. After graduating with a degree in marketing, he was commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Air Force and worked for Pacific Mutual Finance in Denver. He then returned to his hometown of Sherman to work for his family’s business, Clark Equipment Company, for 30 years. He had a lifelong passion for cars, building and racing Formula V racing cars and Lotus sports cars.

George Utley

George Utley (’67), Ellinwood, Kansas. He had a career in oil and gas exploration. At North Texas, he was a lineman for the football team and a member of the Geezles, the fraternity that helped fund the Spiriki statue at UNT Apogee Stadium. He was included on the field for the dedication of Spiriki in the new stadium, and his name is enshrined on a plaque with other members of the fraternity who helped fund the statue.

Terry L. Childers

Terry L. Childers (’76 M.P.A.), Abilene. He was the first Black city manager in the state of Texas when he served as city administrator for the city of Celina. He also was the first Black city manager and, at 34, one of the nation’s youngest city managers for the city of Oklahoma City. Additionally, he worked for the cities of Austin, Tyler, College Station and Amarillo. After he left the public sector, he founded and headed Childers Construction Co., which contracted construction work at federal sites in more than 25 states. He was active on the boards for numerous organizations and served on the White House Minority Business Task Force. He also participated in several mission trips to Africa. He attended North Texas as a Clarence E. Ridley Scholar, sponsored by the Texas City Management Association.

Louise Abt Clay

Louise Abt Clay (’56), Liberty. She served at Texas Instruments as a computer programmer -- back when computers were huge and slow. She then worked at Halliburton in Houston, and also owned her own business, Animal Inn, for 25 years. Louise placed in the National Spelling Bee twice at age 11 and 12. She loved playing violin, piano and bridge. The mother of a child with special needs, she was active in organizations that helped supported living centers. Survivors include sister Sara Hatfield Thompson (’58).

Don Louis Knightstep

Don Louis Knightstep (’70) Plano. Over his 35-year career at Texas Instruments, Don held multiple managerial positions and retired in 2002 as the producibility and fabrication manager. Don married his college sweetheart, Stacy Lee Underwood (’65), in Dallas in 1965.

Daniel Goode

Daniel Goode (’17) Oak Point. He earned his bachelor's degree in psychology with a minor in Italian. Daniel was a huge Dallas Stars fan and seldom missed a game. He had a passion for rock climbing, reading, mountain biking, playing video games with friends, snow skiing, karting, soccer and water skiing at Lake Lewisville. He was preceded in death by his paternal grandfather, Glen Goode (’55). Survivors include his paternal grandmother, Barbara Goode (’55).

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