2010 Civic Person of the Year: Peggy Murphy

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | Peggy Murphy announces her retirement as organizer of the Summer Showcase Concert Series of Southold at Silversmith's Corner on Wednesday night as her successor, A.D. Newcomer, left, and Greenport Band director Colin VanTuyl look on.

If you’re hungry, have no money for food and have been to the Greenport office of Community Action Southold Town to collect some dinner makings for your family, chances are you’ve benefited from the work of Peggy Murphy.

If your soul has been stirred by the music emanating every Wednesday for the past 20 summers from Silversmith’s Corner in Southold, you’ve been touched by Peggy Murphy’s work.

If you’ve ever been seriously ill and had a visit from a member of the Southold Sunshine Society asking what you need, or if daffodils from the society have appeared on your doorstep, it’s likely that Peggy Murphy helped make it happen.

And if your children have ever come home from school brimming with facts about Southold history after a day of learning at the “Step Back in History” program at the Southold Historical Society, Peggy Murphy’s educational skills, honed during her years as a teacher in Southold, have had their effect in your home.

Though Ms. Murphy has given her all to many community organizations over the years, she’s devoted most of her time to CAST since she became president of its board of directors three years ago. This year, she stepped down as the director of the concert series at Silversmith’s Corner, which she founded, in order to have more time for CAST.

“She was up on every single detail” of the concert series, said Cynthia Mellas, who, along with Betty Wells, helped run it. “She got grants from the town, arts grants, sent requests for funding to banks, did the contracts for performers and made sure the green was kept up. She came up with every detail you can think of.”

Linda Ortiz was a CAST board member before becoming its director this year, reporting to Ms. Murphy and the board.
“Working with her is really awesome,” said Ms. Ortiz. “She’s a great person and she’s very committed to the mission. She’s a woman with a very big heart. She’s very caring and gives a lot of her time. She doesn’t do things 50 percent. She does them with all her heart.”

Ms. Murphy helped found the Southold Historical Society’s Education of Youth Committee not long after the Bayview School House was moved to the society’s complex in 1990. Though she has cut back a bit on her work there since she became CAST president, she’s still very involved with making sure local students learn about where they live.

“Her philosophy is that every child who is raised out here should know the history,” said historical society director Geoffrey Fleming.

“She’s the glue that holds it together, in a very amicable way,” said Mary Leary, a volunteer at the Southold Sunshine Society.

“She arrives at our monthly meeting at the rec center with a coffeepot, teapot and a homemade cake. It just creates a very warm, welcoming place.”

[email protected]