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Banking on success

Sunday, January 28, 2007 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 4:53 a.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

It looks as if Kay Murray has just moved into her office. Boxes are scattered all over the room. The walls are bare, with no pictures or posters to lend any sort of personality. But Murray is far from being a newly elected official. She just hasn’t taken the time to unpack since her office was renovated.

Murray, 62, was first elected Boone County treasurer in 1976. On Jan. 1, she started her 31st year in the position. With the retirement of Circuit Judge Ellen Roper this year, Murray is the longest-serving elected official in Boone County government. She has worked with eight presiding commissioners.

“I’ve seen a lot of county commissions,” she said. “They all have a different approach, but I try to share the history that I have.”

As treasurer, Murray is in charge of all county funds. A good part of her job involves investing county money appropriately. That means working closely with brokers and bankers.

Murray said that when she first took office “there was no female in the top staff of the bank I worked with. It was a men’s world, so I had to prove myself more.”

Even county government had few female office holders when Murray took office. Today, eight of the 13 elected officials in Boone County government — excluding judges — are women. Murray said that’s a good thing because “men delegate more than women do.”

[photo]

Pictured here in 1984, Kay Murray is the longest-serving elected official in Boone County government. On Jan. 1, she started her 31st year as treasurer. (Missourian file photo)

Murray’s status as treasurer means she’s involved in many county commit-tees, which means lots of meetings to attend. But she has other duties. Murray is the one, for example, who distributes the proceeds of drug forfeitures to schools. And years ago, under state statutes, she was the county official responsible for making funeral arrangements when the family of the deceased could not or would not. She recalls a time when she was handling the arrangements for two people at once. But she took the task in stride, exhibiting the professionalism her colleagues know her for.

“You see, I have much more to do than just going to the bank,” she said.

While Murray manages to do her job in 40 hours a week, it’s still a big challenge.

“I rarely go on vacation,” she said, “but if I do, I have to keep in touch with my office every day to give investment orders.”

The Internet, at least, has sped the process.

“Internet banking has been a big step,” she said. “It’s allowing us to be up to date with our bank accounts, but we still need to make daily deposits at the bank.”

Murray has won several awards for her work as treasurer. Glenda Ellis, a senior account specialist in Murray’s office, said Murray is an excellent motivator. “She is great to work with because she expects you to do a good job,” Ellis said.

Murray said “recognition comes in election years. I like the support from the constituents that tell me that I’m doing a good job.”

While her eighth term ends in December 2008, Murray said she doesn’t know whether she’ll run again. “I will make a decision at that time,” she said. “Right now, I have no plan.”


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