Community remembers Pat Murphy, Phillies fanatic and Laurel ambassador
By Tony E. Windsor
If he wasnt talking about his wife, children, or grandchildren, Pat Murphy would surely be talking about the community of Laurel, his beloved Phillies or his proud Irish heritage. Murphy, a writer and Vice-President for the Laurel and Seaford Star newspapers, died on Nov. 23, at the age of 74.
Murphy, who retired from the DuPont Company after 33 years, is a former Laurel Outstanding Citizen of the Year and member emeritus of the Laurel Volunteer Fire Department. A charter member of the Laurel Historical Society, Murphy is past president of Laurel Little League. He was very active in Laurels Charity Lodge #27 Odd Fellows, serving as past Nobel Grand.
It was in 1996, just prior to the launching of the Laurel Star newspaper that Murphy came to work with Morning Star Publications, which at the time published the Seaford Star. Owner of Morning Star Publications, State Senator Bryant L. Richardson, said it was Murphy who helped to found the Laurel-Delmar newspaper and contributed significantly to the success it currently enjoys. He said Murphys relationships with the people who called Laurel home is what gave him an edge when it came to ensuring the newspaper was responding to the people of the community. Murphys weekly column was extremely popular and always maintained a personal connection to the Laurel and Delmar communities.
Pat was what made the Laurel Star a success, he said. He would often come into work very early in the morning, a sign that he loved what he was doing. His love for Laurel showed at every editorial meeting. He made sure his beloved Laurel was well covered and represented in the Seaford and Laurel Star newspapers. Readers told me they thoroughly enjoyed reading what Pat wrote for the newspapers. He spoke often about his love for his family and of course the Phillies.
Richardson said it was Murphys love and appreciation of family and friends that made him so special to all those who knew him. The last time I visited with Pat was on Veterans Day, Richardson said. He was clutching a blanket that was given to members of the military in their honor by members of the Daughters of the American Revolution and the staff at the Manor House. His thoughts were not on his condition, but on his family. My thoughts go out to his family, especially his wife, Kay, who was by his side day and night.
In 2012, Murphy was inducted into the Eastern Shore Baseball Hall of Fame as a sports writer. He founded the Friends of Baseball which ran from 1993 2014, and owned Shibe Park Collectables in Laurel.
Sky Phillip Brady, local D.J. and member of the band Skinny Leg Pete, is a longtime friend of Murphy. He said it was their mutual love of sports and the Philadelphia Phillies that brought them together in 1995.
Brady said he was visiting a sports memorabilia shop in Georgetown and was talking to someone about the Phillies. They said you have to talk to Pat Murphy, Brady said. I found a card of his that said Pat Phillie Murphy. I said I got to meet this guy. Come to find out were both baseball memorabilia collectors. When he opened his sports memorabilia shop in Laurel we finally met and became instant best friends. We would talk baseball for hours and would go to card shows together.
He said his friendship with Murphy was to say the least, full of adventure. Once we got stuck in the snow in Valley Forge like our forefathers. It took me eight hours to get home but we made it and never forgot that special bond, he said. Pat had friends he would travel with every summer to a different ballpark. He had Phillies season tickets and was always a fan even during rough seasons.
Because of their extraordinary dedication to the Phillies, both Brady and Murphy were interviewed for a book written by Rich Wolfe entitled, For Phillies Fans Only. Brady said in the 246-page book their interviews were included together on pages 141 and 142.
Brady said over the years as his schedule has allowed he visited Murphy and remained close to him and his wife of 54 years, Kay. The last fun trip me and Pat made together was, of course, a Phillies game. When I describe kindness, gentleness, greatness, unselfishness, loyalty, dedicated, honest, humble, family-oriented, and of course the ultimate Phillies fan, I can sum it up in two words, Pat Murphy. I mourn a true friend, who I will miss very dearly. Pat Phillies Murphy will always be in my heart and soul.
Mike Mercer, owner of the Laurel Junction Flea Market, was good friends with Murphy and joined him as part of the longtime Breakfast Club that met for years at the Junction and later also at the Laurel Coffee Shop. Mercer said the two shared a love for sports, but it was Murphys humorous, gentle and wise nature that spawned their friendship.
I dont know how to put it into words, he said. I feel like I have lost a friend, an older brother, a father, all of the above. When you were fortunate enough to know Pat Murphy you truly had a friend. He really loved people and you knew it when you were around him. There was never a time that I talked with him that he did not mention his wife Kay, the kids, and the grandkids. He was a true family man and certainly someone that I would want to emulate because of the way he treats his wife and family.
Mercer said his love for the Philadelphia Phillies is unmatched. I was having breakfast with the Breakfast Club on Saturday and we were reminiscing about Pat. One of our friends, Bubba Wheatley said it best. He said Pat was not missing us at all because about now he was probably sitting down having breakfast with Robin Roberts (Phillies pitcher who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1976). That was as profound a statement as anyone could make. I believe Pat is chasing those Philly players around the clouds trying to get an autograph or a piece of memorabilia and he has surely broken bread with Robin Roberts, his all-time favorite.
Mercer said examples of qualities that he admired about Murphy were his commitment to the Laurel community and his honesty. Pat was involved in so many facets of the community, Mercer said. He was involved with the Odd Fellows, the school district, Little League, so many things that demonstrated his love for the community. And one thing you could count on is that when you talked to Pat you knew where he stood. He was always up front and honest, you never had to wonder how he felt about any given subject. He never stood in the gray area and gave everything he had for all those community organizations.
Another longtime friend, State Representative Tim Dukes describes Murphy as a fine example of what a Christian man should be. Dukes said as a young boy growing up in Laurel he remembers Murphy as a Little League coach. I never played on Pats team, but I always wanted to because he was such a great leader. He motivated the kids with love, not yelling at them, just always encouraging them, he said.
Dukes said Murphy was someone that everyone loved, respected and appreciated. Every time you saw Pat you knew you were going to get a warm smile and most likely a story about the Phillies, he said. We worked together on a project with the school district and whenever Pat would talk you tended to really listen because he had so much knowledge of the community and spoke with so much wisdom. He is without question one of the most profound people in our Laurel community and you could not find a more quality person than Pat Murphy. He will really be missed.
Funeral services for Pat Murphy will be held at the Laurel Volunteer Fire Dept., 205 W 10th Street Laurel, DE 19956 on Thursday Nov. 30, at 1 p.m. A visitation will also be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The Rev. Wayne Mathis will officiate. Interment will follow in Odd Fellows Cemetery.
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Call Bryant Richardson at 629-9788.