James J. Murphy

09/17/2013 4:05 PM |

James J. Murphy died suddenly Sept. 5, 2013, at his home on Horton Lane, Southold, five days before his 85th birthday.

James J. Murphy

There was much to be admired about Jim, a genial Irishman, who loved all his expansive family and who was always able to win a smile from the latest grand- or great-grandchild experiencing a restless or grumpy moment.

Jim epitomized the phrase “people person.” He made friends easily and they enjoyed him as much as he enjoyed them. He enthusiastically honed his limited Spanish language skills by practicing on every Hispanic person he came in contact with, earning many friends along the way. Jim radiated sincerity and concern for others, and to know him was to be his friend. During the two days he was waked at DeFriest-Grattan Funeral Home, large numbers of people, from all the areas of his long life, dropped in to wish him goodbye and to share their fond memories and rich stories of him with his family.

His wife, Peggy Murphy, describes him as, “The Wind Beneath My Wings,” always willing to pitch in on her community projects, such as “putting out the signs in the morning and the chairs in the afternoon for the 20 summers (180 Wednesday evenings) of the Summer Showcase Concert Series in the gazebo at Silversmith Corner, Southold; picking up the food for CAST at the Blue Duck Bakery on Monday evenings; and filling in at Southold Historical Society’s corncrib for a children’s program, singing ‘Jimmy Crack Corn’ even though his singing voice was far from being his strong point.”

Commenting on Jim’s penchant for telling jokes, often repeating his favorites, Peggy tells of an incident three weeks ago when she was awakened from her sleep at 2 a.m. by Jim’s mumbling. Then “he launched into one of his oldest and most favorite jokes, delivering it verbatim from beginning to end — never waking up!” She then recalled, “He always laughed at his own jokes, so whether it was entertaining or not, the listener always responded with chuckles.”

One of Jim’s fondest memories is recounted in a May 2013 letter he wrote to Monsignor Robert Ritchie, rector of Saint Patrick’s Cathedral: “I recently read your article concerning the current renovation project at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral and it brought back a fond memory to me. It was during the Cathedral’s first face-lift where my father, James Murphy, a stonecutter by trade, was the foreman in charge. I worked in an insurance agency located in downtown New York. One day an assignment required me to go uptown. On the way I stopped at the Cathedral to visit my father. During the visit my dad took me to the very top of the left spire, part way up on the inside of the spire, and then on the outside to the scaffolding where we continued our climb to the top. The cross was not at the peak of the spire as it was being restored elsewhere. Looking down on Fifth Avenue, the vehicles looked like Matchbox toys. What a beautiful scene it was. I consider myself very fortunate to have been with my dad and to have had such a unique experience. Later he told me that when the cross was replaced he took some coins out of his pocket and placed them in the mortar before it was reset.”

Whether it was completing his time in the United States Naval Reserve, caring for his family, helping to grow Newbridge Coverage Corp. into a successful, thriving business or pursuing his chosen pastimes as a retiree — golf and painting — Jim approached life’s challenges with dedication, humor, grace. The strong bonds with his family, friends, community and the Roman Catholic Church always guided his life.

James J. Murphy was the much beloved husband of the former Margaret (Peggy) Fischer Dow and the doting father of Jim Murphy and his wife, Sue; Kathee Murphy Wenskus and her husband, Tom, and Nancy Murphy Golden and her husband, Mike; four stepchildren, Rob Dow and his wife, Lynn, Kathy Dow Norkus and her husband, Greg, Steve Dow and his wife, Jill, and Allison Dow. Fifteen grandchildren; five great-grandchildren; and several nieces and nephews also survive him.

Jim’s life was celebrated in Saint Patrick R.C. Church, Southold, on Sept. 9, 2013, and he was buried in the church cemetery. Funeral arrangements were handled by DeFriest-Grattan Funeral Home in Southold.

Donations to commemorate James Murphy would be appreciated and may be made to CAST, P.O. Box 159, Greenport, NY 11944 or Southold Sunshine Society, P.O. Box 251, Southold, NY 11971.

This is a paid notice.