Frank Murphy of Mattituck died surrounded and supported by his family on Sunday, January 23, 2011.
Born Francis Joseph in 1929 to Paul and Loretta Murphy in the Bronx, he was the second of four children.
December 2010 marked the celebration of 53 years of an exceptional marriage to Elizabeth Hickey, who he first met when she was just a 12-year-old kid from around the corner in the Bronx. Together they created a family of five children: Liza, of Bonn, Germany; Michael (Rachel), of Southold; Cathleen, of Greenport; and Barbara Smith (Tommy) and Mary Claudio (Tony), both of Mattituck.
Frank first came to Mattituck at the age of 2 as a summer resident in 1932 and never left for very long after that. Frank graduated from Farmingdale Ag and Tech and returned to the East End to work at the Cornell Research Farm after graduation.
He later enlisted and served in the Army’s Seventh Regiment, Third Infantry Division, the same Regiment and Division in which his father, Paul, had served during World War I. After completing Officer Candidates School at Fort Benning, Ga., he then served as an instructor for OCS trainees. During this time he was involved in desegregation efforts both in the Army and in the community in Georgia.
While serving active duty in Korea he won two Bronze Stars for valor, and was also awarded three Purple Hearts. Most of those who knew him never learned that he was a decorated war hero.
After returning from Korea he worked for Vaughn Seed Company in Manhattan. He also attended Packard in the evenings, studying accounting as part of his plan to establish a business in Mattituck.
In 1955 he opened Frank Murphy Garden Center and Landscaping, a business that brought beauty to Mattituck through the late ’70s, with the commercial landscaping business continuing until the mid-1980s. Through employment opportunities and leading by example, he provided a first chance for many young men and women, and often, for those he thought would benefit, second and third chances at success. He was usually right in his selections.
Throughout the years Frank served his community in a variety of ways, both public and private. Many benefit today from both his public actions and his example of quiet, dedicated citizenry. He was the fourth member elected to the Mattituck Park District, replacing founding member John McNulty Sr. upon his retirement. There, while working with Larry Reeve and Bob Bergen, public access to our beaches and waters was guaranteed in perpetuity to Mattituck residents. Together they established Veterans Park on Peconic Bay, Breakwater Beach on L.I. Sound, Wolf Pit Lake, the boat launching ramp at Mattituck Inlet and the baseball park and the Yacht Club Beach in Mattituck. He later served as a N.Y. State Park Commissioner. He served on the Laurel school board for over 10 years, working to ensure that this unique district provided the best of educational opportunities to its small student base.
In 1979 Frank lost his first try at public office, running for Southold Town Councilman. He persevered and was subsequently successful at winning races for Councilman and eventually Supervisor. His hallmark as a politician was his willingness to hear from all sides and to find new solutions with a wide variety of partners. This strategy facilitated a list of successes that bring continuing benefits to our town: implementation of two-acre zoning as a curb on development and to protect our natural resources; establishment of the land transfer tax to fund open space purchases; the first Enhanced 911 in the country, allowing better and faster response times in emergencies; and myriad other improvements to the daily life of the town.
He was an active member of the Mattituck Fire Department for over 40 years and a lifetime member of the Mattituck Lions Club, a service organization; at the time of his death he was the longest serving member of the group. He received the highest honor the Lions grant, the Melvin Jones award, an award that his brother Paul also received for his service.
He is survived by his wife, Betty; his children and their families; and his brothers, Paul (Rita) of Mattituck and Tommy (Evelyn) of Hicksville; and was predeceased by his sister, Joan Ceratto (John) of the Bronx. For the past 20 years his life was graced by the daily joy brought by his six grandchildren: Angela and Claire Smith, Dan and Halle Murphy and Maisy and Charley Claudio; they were the light of his life. He told them often that he believed in reincarnation and expected to return as a butterfly. A more recent addition to his family was Giovanni Garcia of Laurel. An extended family of over 100 continues his commitment to service daily in many places on the globe. Along with his family he is survived by a wide circle of friends and admirers.
It is hoped that his example will provide an ongoing legacy to inspire us all to greater kindness, patience and service. Donations to Community Action of Southold Town (CAST) or Maureen’s Haven–Sacred Heart Parish in his memory are welcomed.
Visiting hours will be held at DeFriest-Grattan Funeral Home in Mattituck on Wednesday, Jan. 26, from 7 to 9 p.m. and Thursday, Jan. 27, from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. A funeral Mass will be held Friday, Jan. 28, at 10 a.m. at Our Lady of Good Counsel R.C. Church in Mattituck. Burial will follow at Calverton National Cemetery.
The world is a better place for him being in it and we will miss him every day.
This is a paid notice.