Anna Murphy (nee Hill) died in Hollywood, Florida after a brief illness. She was 95 years old, all except the last few weeks lived in robust good health and famously positive good spirits.
Mrs. Murphy was born in Jersey City, NJ and lived her whole life in Hudson and Union counties before moving to Florida five years ago. Saying that she didn’t expect to live much longer, Mrs. Murphy retired in 1962 from her post as an administrative assistant at Western Electric.
She was married to late Edward Murphy who died in 1989. Her son John, a retired partner in J&M Contracting, has lived for many years in Florida and is married to Beth Murphy (nee Hill). Mrs. Murphy’s daughter, Dr. Pat Murphy is a lifelong resident of New Jersey, now living in Bradley Beach. She is an advanced practice nurse, recently retired from UMDNJ-University Hospital and continuing to teach at New Jersey Medical School in Newark, NJ. She is married to Dr. David Price who taught medical ethics at NJ Medical School before retiring in 2005. Anna’s son Joseph Murphy died in 1982.
Other surviving family members are two brothers, Charles Hill of Myrtle Beach SC and Joseph Hill of East Hanover NJ; three grandsons, Major James Murphy of Layton UT, Timothy Grosso of Bordentown NJ and Drew Grosso of Red Bank NJ; two granddaughters Christine Murphy of Orlando FL and Dawn Briell of Washingtonville NY; two great-grandchildren, Emma Murphy and Lucas Grosso; and one anticipated great-grandchild, Conner Murphy.
In true Anna Murphy spirit, the list of “family members” should really extend to many others. It surely includes Pat’s first husband Drew Grosso, formerly of Maplewood NJ and now of Tampa FL, and his wife Jan and her children Karen and Daniel, David’s children Cynthia and Ben, and Pat and David’s “grandson” Christopher Schottinger. Her “family” included more than a few women who were aunt-like to her children and their children. You know who you are and, doubtless, are grateful that that she was “like family” to you for so long.
In lieu of flowers, those who wish may contribute in Anne’s memory to the Hospice by the Sea, Inc., 1200 E. Las Olas Blvd., #203, Fort Lauderdale, FL, 33301-2367
Eulogy for Annie
David M Price,
Before I begin to share some of my thoughts about my beloved Annie, let me say something on behalf of my wife Pat and me about our beloved John and Beth. So much of Annie’s quality of life during the past 3 or 4 years is due to the incredible care provided by John and Beth. For the past two years, she lived in their home. She had to. Increasingly, Annie could not be left alone, even for a minute at a time. Pat and I tried to provide some occasional respite, but the everyday devotion they provided, day in and day out, was amazing and will always be remembered and honored by us.
Several friends who have phoned or emailed in the last couple of days called Annie “a force of nature”. It will surprise few of you to learn that that same term has been applied to her daughter Pat.
“Force of nature.” Let’s examine the phrase. “Force” implies energy. Oh, yes. That fits. Annie was always moving. Usually faster than we who were a generation younger. Years ago, she would wallpaper a room while her friends watched and her children were still thinking about it. Her niece Cathy Hill, emailing yesterday from Dubai, wrote, “Did you know that your mother taught me to drive? Charlie took me out once and then gave up. Then he called Annie to take over. I’ve been speeding ever since”.
More recently, Annie’s fast movements endangered her health and even, it turned out, her life. Three times she landed in emergency rooms, twice with badly broken bones. Her speed was eventually her undoing.
But many, many more times, that irrepressive energy led to laughter; to infectious life- affirming enjoyment; to memorable, wonderful fun. Even in her last months of life, even in those moments when she knew that she was losing her mental grip. Annie was a fundamentally positive spirit. Every meal was “delicious”, every cloud bank “beautiful”, every baby “precious”.
Oh boy, did she love little children, especially the babies. Toward the end of her life, she knew no boundaries. In the supermarket, she would swoop down on any baby in sight. An entirely understandable flash of alarm on the face of the parent would disappear only when one of us would catch up to Annie and assure them that, even if she might try to steal their baby, we would not let her. Annie was a force, perhaps sometimes alarming, but never consciously a force for harm, or meanness, or selfishness, or any other variety of a lack of charity.
Let’s look at the second part of the phrase. “Force of Nature.” Natural. Little that was artificial. What you see is what you get. Plain-spoken. Little pretense or social role-playing. Warmth – easy, spontaneous warmth. A wonderful set of women friends, some of them friends for 60, 70, even 80 years.
Passionate devotion to family. A very elastic notion of who counts as a family member. We sometimes said that, if you had a beer with Annie and shared a couple of good laughs, you could be family. For Annie, such inclusive, expansive notions of family were entirely natural. What a great way to be natural!
There were a few deviations from the natural: weekly visits to the hair dresser; inordinately long nails of which she was very proud and, toward the end of her life, vigorously insisted were her own; winning at slots when she was about 80 and deciding to have a face lift to combat the creep of a thousand wrinkles.
I love it that Pat has the same kind of wrinkles as her mother. I love it that, in both of them, the wrinkles are deepest and most pronounced around the eyes. Laugh wrinkles. Love wrinkles.
During the days that John and Pat and I spent at Annie’s bedside, I was reading a book about James Garfield, our 20th president. Each chapter began with a quotation from the famously articulate Garfield. I copied down one of those quotations so I could use it here:
“If wrinkles must be written upon our brows, let them not be written upon the heart. The spirit should not grow old.”
Annie’s spirit did not grow old. I trust that most of you would want to emulate that. Few of us will succeed as well as she did. But what a bright star to steer by! Thank you, Annie, for your example of a life lived with gusto and a joyful spirit
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