Arkansas Business' 25 Wealthiest Arkansans (25th Anniversary)

by Arkansas Business Staff  on Monday, Mar. 23, 2009 12:00 am  

Members of the Walton family.

The families have joint custody of SF Holding Corp., the holding company for the holdings of Warren Stephens, Witt Jr. and Elizabeth, including Stephens Media Group and Stephens Production Co., a natural gas company.

3. Charles Murphy Family
While lumber and banking helped the Murphy family fortune grow, it was oil that pushed the family to the forefront in Arkansas.

The family's worth is rooted in the stock of the publicly traded Murphy Oil Corp., a worldwide oil and gas exploration and production company with refining and marketing operations in the United States and the United Kingdom. It also has crude oil transportation and trading operations in Canada.

Other family holdings include stock in BancorpSouth Inc. of Tupelo, Miss., and Deltic Timber Corp. of El Dorado, the public timber and real estate company spun off from Murphy Oil in 1996.

Last September, the stock holdings of the Murphy family were worth about $1.3 billion. The Wall Street slump has sent the value reeling to more like $650 million.

Charles H. Murphy Sr., who became involved in lumber and banking in 1900, was 50 when Charles H. Murphy Jr. was born, and Charles Jr. was 21 when he was pushed into the company's top spot because of his father's poor health. Charles Murphy Jr. died in 2002.

R. Madison Murphy, a grandson of Charles Sr., took over as chairman in 1994 and remains on the board, although he left the chairmanship in 2002. Madison also serves on the boards of Deltic and BancorpSouth.

Michael W. Murphy, Madison's brother, is president of Marmik Oil Co., a privately owned oil and gas exploration company founded in 1952 by Charles H. Murphy Jr. Other Murphy relatives include Claiborne P. Deming, who was president and CEO of Murphy Oil until this year, Murphy Oil Chairman William C. Nolan and director Caroline G. Theus. Deming and Nolan are nephews of Charles H. Murphy Jr., and Theus is a niece.

4. Winthrop Paul Rockefeller Family
Winthrop Paul Rockefeller, the former lieutenant governor who died in 2006, left an estimated fortune of $1.2 billion to his wife, Lisenne.

His wealth was rooted in an inheritance from his great-grandfather, John D. Rockefeller, the industrialist who founded Standard Oil Co. of Ohio and was the wealthiest man in the world in the early 20th century.

Rockefeller also benefited from the operation of Winrock Farms, the Morrilton farming operation atop Petit Jean Mountain that had belonged to his father, former Arkansas Gov. Winthrop Rockefeller. In addition, he had interests in car dealerships and real estate.

Because Win Paul was an only child, his inheritance was the least diluted of those of any of John D. Rockefeller's great-grandchildren.



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