Real Life Stories

Former Little Ed Murph and former Big Bill Barnett

The Right Path Leads to the Open Road

These days, Ed Murph’s life stays in the fast-lane, whether he is busy with his multi-chain restaurant or riding his motorcycle in his leisure time. He enjoys the feel of the open road, but he’s not just joyriding; he’s changing lives through a Motorcycle Ministry group. Just one of the many ways that Ed pursues his passion for helping others, he admits that things could have been a lot different had someone not done the same for him when he needed it most.

Shortly after turning seven, Ed’s parents separated. With his dad out of the picture, he lived with his mom who struggled daily with health issues. Ed describes their relationship as “not very strong” and friendships seemed difficult as the same family rarely occupied the apartments in his Oak Cliff complex for more than a few months. Worried for her son, his mom reached out to Big Brothers Big Sisters for help.

It was 1956 and Bill Barnett had safely returned home after flying B17’s during World War II. He was looking forward to pursuing his career and starting a family with his beloved wife. He also decided to become a Big Brother and later that year met a young boy named Ed.

After their first meeting, Ed remembers thinking that his Big Brother Bill was “serious, smart and genuine”. A shared passion for working with their hands led to hours of building just about anything and everything. Bill treated Ed as part of the family and over the years they built more than just model airplanes.

Looking back, Ed credits Bill’s dedication of time with keeping him out of trouble. “He gave me validation as a kid. The time we spent together was quality time; it was about me…it was about the relationship. It was about building me up just by his willingness to spend time… I give him and the program credit that I didn’t stay on the streets. I had a pretty crazy life growing up, and Bill was there,” said Ed.

Bill showed Ed what a family looked like with a happy marriage and a healthy home life.

“I remember being over there and realizing how different it was from my home life. Mine was chaos…theirs was very organized and smooth and nice. There I felt safe ... and I felt loved,” shared Ed.

Bill was the only stable male influence in Ed’s life. While Ed is grateful for his mom, aunt and grandmother who all worked to raise him, it was Bill who gave him the strength to stand up on his own two feet and start a life he could be proud of.

Today, Ed is 64-years-old and living a life he could have never imagined without Bill’s guidance. With a successful career in the hospitality business, his most recent success is Norma’s Cafe which he purchased in 1986. At that time, it was an article about Norma’s Cafe new management that brought Bill into the restaurant…and back into Ed’s life. Since that reunion, the two have remained close.

Ed credits Bill with demonstrating what it means to be a caring man and how caring can impact the lives of others. Through Bill’s example, Ed has developed great compassion for kids and helping people. Along with being a Big Brother himself, Ed has utilized his restaurant and skill to give back to those less fortunate. Through Norma’s Cafe, Ed has benefited the community through many outreach programs including a toy drive and a “letter to our troops” campaign. More than two decades ago, Ed began a tradition of serving Thanksgiving dinner at Norma’s Cafe for free to those in need. The first year, they were ecstatic to feed around 150 people. Last year, they served over 4,000.

 Ed has been able to touch the lives of many because of the love that Bill expressed to him when he was young. “I have no idea what lives I’ve touched or changed because either I was a Big Brother to somebody, or I fed somebody a meal, or they got a gift, or I helped them through my motorcycle ministry group. It all goes back to Bill because he was willing to take the time for a guy like me and show me how to be a good man.” 

Ed Murph used to be a young boy in need, and now he is a man with a need to reach out. He believes that Big Brothers Big Sisters has the power to do wonderful things. “Being a Little Brother saved my life…and being a Big Brother changed my life.”


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