Mitch Murch’s entrepreneurial spirit got his foot in — and his name on — the door.
Mitch Murch. The name alone is memorable. And, with his big personality, Murch was stout enough to carry a few distinctive nicknames, including the alliterative and alluring Sexy Sam the Sandwich Man. “That was in the 1950s,” says Tom Schultz, BJ ’56, a friend, fraternity brother and fellow president of the Mizzou Alumni Association. “Back then, the weekday curfew for women was 10:30 p.m. Mitch would make a basket of sandwiches, walk past the sorority houses and sell goodies to the women at the front door.”
The sandwich business helped pay Murch’s tuition. But he said it also expressed an enduring entrepreneurial outlook that he launched of necessity at age 13, after his mother’s death.
Murch, BS BA ’52, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, philanthropist and staunch supporter of MU, died Dec. 27, 2014, in St. Louis at age 86.
Murch’s genius for business blended with another prominent personality characteristic, Schultz says. “He was a neat freak. When I was brand new at Kappa Sigma, Mitch would come along and make sure us pledges kept the place shipshape.” Before long, with Schultz as one of his first employees, Murch launched a business cleaning Greek houses. Eventually, he founded Mitch Murch’s Maintenance Management, now known as 4M Building Solutions. He billed himself as “the most successful janitor in the world.”
Carrie Lanham, BS HES ’76, senior director for development at the Mizzou Alumni Association, recalls a Murch quip from his time helping to plan the Reynolds Alumni Center. “I don’t have enough money to donate a building, so just name the janitor’s room after me,” he said. Unbeknownst to Murch, the planning committee did just that and surprised him with the honor when he visited the new structure. “He laughed so hard,” Lanham says. “The sign said ‘Mitch Murch Maintenance Closet.’ He would always bring visitors down to see it.”