Patricia R. Murphy, 86, of 22 Elm Street, Westerly, RI, died after a brief illness on Monday, September 20, 2021. Mrs. Murphy was born September 11, 1935, in Montclair, NJ, the eldest of the late C. Norman and Mary Lewis Reeves' seven children.
As a child, Mrs. Murphy moved with her family to Wheeling, WV. In 1953, she graduated from Villa Duchesne Convent of the Sacred Heart in St. Louis, where she excelled in art and tennis.
At Rosemont College, Mrs. Murphy captained the tennis team and earned All-Philadelphia honors as goalie on the field hockey squad. During those years, she also won seven consecutive West Virginia state singles titles in tennis.
In 1955, it was tennis that led Pat to meet J. Austin Murphy, the man who would become her husband of 63 years. Austin, then a graduate student, had snared a part-time gig umpiring one of Mrs. Murphy’s matches—despite his abject ignorance of the sport’s rules. Notwithstanding numerous butchered calls, they hit it off.
After graduating from Rosemont in 1957, Mrs. Murphy was a reporter for the Wheeling News Register, the Camden (NJ) Courier Post and Columbus (OH) Little Weekly. In 1958, she married her husband, who by then had a much better understanding of tennis.
A salesman with US Steel, Austin's job required frequent relocation. Mrs. Murphy lived with her rapidly growing family—at one point, she had seven children under the age of seven—in Cincinnati, Columbus, Denver, Pittsburgh, Louisville, KY, Yardley, Penn., Chicago, and New Castle, Penn. In 1995, she and Austin moved permanently to the family's summer homestead in Shelter Harbor.
In Westerly, Mrs. Murphy continued her lifelong, tireless work for others. She served on numerous healthcare boards, volunteered for both Hospice Care and her beloved parish, St. Clare, where she was a daily communicant. And when her husband, a baritone, joined the Chorus of Westerly, Mrs. Murphy did too, in spades. She dedicated thousands of hours to the Chorus, running the annual auction and managing myriad day-to-day duties. After a few years, she was elected President of the Board of Directors for the Chorus—only the second non-singing member ever to hold the post.
Mrs. Murphy was old-school tough. As she committed herself to these groups full-bore, she never complained about her debilitating arthritis, complications from a battle with Hepatitis C, or the countless struggles brought on by her irredeemable offspring. She soldiered on through a great deal of difficulties, constantly mentioning how "delightful," "terrific," and "super" her life was.
In addition to her husband of 63 years, Mrs. Murphy leaves seven children, Leslie Murphy of Westerly; Austin Murphy and his wife, Gina Raith, of Petaluma, CA.; and Chris Murphy and his wife Jeanine of North Attleborough, MA. She also leaves Gibney (Gibby) Ries and her husband John of Reston, VA.; Matthew Murphy and his wife Kimm of Conifer, CO.; Mark Murphy and his wife Sabrina of Scarborough, ME; and Amy Rectenwald and her husband David of Conneaut Lake, PA. Additionally, she was the mother of the late Lorin Peterson of Minnetonka, Minn. “BatPat” also leaves 20 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
Mrs. Murphy is also missed by her sister-in-law, Diane Murphy of Essex, CT and her siblings, Martha Cole and her husband Phil, Rick Reeves and his wife Sally, Tina Eisenberg and her husband Richard, all of The Villages, FL, Tanha Luvaas and her husband Jon of Chico, CA, and Harry Reeves and his wife Nancy of Vero Beach, FL. Mrs. Murphy was predeceased by her sister, Mary Dale Reeves and her brother-in-law, Albert (Gib) Murphy. Many nieces and nephews also mourn her loss.
Mrs. Murphy's commitment to others never wavered. As her daughter Lorin's health declined due to Parkinson's Disease, Mrs. Murphy wrote weekly letters to Lori and her son-in-law, Rodney Peterson. In typical Pat Murphy fashion, they were unfailingly direct, upbeat, and poignant.
Fortunately, as Pat's illness suddenly worsened, she benefited from similar selflessness. To that end, the family would like to thank the caring staff at The Elms, where Mr. and Mrs. Murphy have lived for the past several years, the Beacon Hospice team; and especially Mrs. Murphy's daughter Leslie, for whom no sacrifice has been too much.
There will be a Mass of Christian Burial for Mr. and Mrs. Murphy at 10 a.m., October 18 at St. Clare's Church, 4 St. Clare's Way, Westerly followed by internment at St. Michael the Archangel Cemetery in Pawcatuck, Conn. A reception for family and friends will follow. The Murphy family requests that attendees be fully vaccinated or masked.
In lieu of flowers please consider a donation to the WARM Center, the Blue Mitten, or the Chorus of Westerly.
For online condolences, please visit www.buckler-johnston.com