Murray Campbell and his wife Ann reflect on their commitment to others.
Australian Unity is very viable and reliable now. It’s well managed and has a strong board.
He created Australian Unity, gave 50 years of his life to the organisation and was rightly “made a big fuss of” when Australian Unity’s Campbell Place, named after him and his wife Ann, opened in May this year.
It was a particularly poignant day because Murray’s parents both spent their last years at the aged care residence where Campbell Place now stands.
“I’m thrilled that Campbell Place is named after us,” Murray says.
“Named after you,” proud Ann says.
“Our son says that work was Murray’s fifth child, but I think it was his first,” Ann continues. “He worked long, crazy hours, and weekends, and worked so hard to keep it viable and thriving. He worked seven days a week and he’d bring work home.”
Murray says he “just wanted a clean desk when he walked into his office on Monday”.
Manchester Unity set up the Glen Waverley aged care residence Wahroonga Aged Care, where Campbell Place now stands, in 1962. Murray began working with Manchester Unity in 1965 and in 1972 was appointed grand secretary and CEO.
Ann and Murray “went everywhere together”, Ann says. She was 25 when her husband started work at Manchester Unity, and she would take their four children to lodge meetings and functions. She also attended most board meetings, until the practice of allowing members to attend stopped in the early ’80s.
“Some husbands don’t talk to their wives about work, but Murray would talk things over with me and I hope that lessened the load,” Ann says.
“I shared his vision,” she says. Murray’s vision?
“To become stronger and provide better products and better service for our members than our competitors could,” he says.
Ann notes that “during the ’80s, a lot of funds went belly up because of business decisions, but Murray held a steady ship and kept us going. It’s worked out very well.”
Murray says there was a lot of competition and he worked hard to stay several steps ahead – “hopefully without making too many enemies”.
“Oh, you didn’t have enemies. You were popular boy number one,” Ann says.
In 1993, Murray showed the courage and foresight to initiate the merger between Manchester Unity and the Australian Natives Association and create Australian Unity. Murray served in key roles in Australian Unity until retiring in 2015, aged 79.
“Australian Unity is very viable and reliable now. It’s well managed and has a strong board,” he says.
Murray’s legacy also includes being a leader in the field.
Among his career highlights is creating one of the first retirement communities in Australia, Walmsley in Kilsyth, in 1981. It offered multiple levels of support, from independent living to high- and low-level aged care and was named after Murray’s predecessor William Walmsley and his family.
Murray was president of the Australian Friendly Societies Association for many years, was on the management committee of the Voluntary Health Industry Association and has appreciation certificates from the fire brigade, the police and a string of others for the support they received.
The Campbells’ latest achievement is having their fourth great-grandchild on the way.
“It’s been a very good life,” Murray says.
Would they one day consider moving into Campbell Place with its 54 boutique apartments, gym, library, hair salon, café, cinema and barbecue area?
“A lot of people ask us that,” Murray says. “We will put that on hold.”
Words: Harbant Gill Photos: Dean Golja