Thomas A. Murphy Jr. was born in Philadelphia on February 21, 1940. The family moved from Philadelphia to Riverton, New Jersey when Tom was 7. He was the oldest of three sons of Thomas A. Sr. and Catherine. He is survived by his wife Sandra, his daughter Effie Murphy, his son Thomas and wife Rosalind, his brothers Richard and Donald and their wives Vena and Cindy, five grandchildren Kelly, Katie, Alex, James and Ashley, and eleven nieces and nephews. He is predeceased by his daughter’s husband, Frank Coburn.
He was a graduate of Palmyra High School, Bordentown Military Institute and Marietta College. He was captain and center of the football team at Marietta. He received his Master’s and Ed. D degrees from Rutgers University.
After college he entered the United States Navy in flight school in Pensacola, Florida in 1963, then serving in Key West, Florida and Newfoundland. He worked in intelligence and also as the radar observer in the Navy F-4 Phantom jet. After serving four years of service he continued in the Naval Reserve for another sixteen years. He taught seventh grade and coached football in Palmyra while continuing his graduate education.
In 1970 he and his family moved to Marathon in the Florida Keys where he was principal of the new open-space Stanley Switlik School. In 1975 they returned to New Jersey where he finished his graduate education. He served as superintendent of South Harrison Township District. Then he and his brothers formed a business called Creative Alternatives in which they bought and refurbished homes.
He continued serving in the Naval Reserve by flying out of Willow Grove Naval Air Station and building a drug and alcohol center for the Navy there. Tom then went back on active duty at the Philadelphia Naval Base where he built and staffed a family service center and then the drug and alcohol center.
His last adventure was as director of the United Methodist Homes in Ocean Grove, New Jersey.
He discovered his great love for the earth in the mid-70’s and planted elaborate gardens no matter where he lived from West Trenton, to Elsinboro to the Jersey Shore. He played football until he was thirty-five with the Jaycees. Singing in church choirs from Key West to several places in New Jersey was another love of his. He also taught a three year old Sunday School class and a youth class. In work he loved to start something new, get it up and running and then move on to meet another challenge. His famous words to his wife in each transition were, “I am finished with this work. I resigned today. I am ready for a new challenge.”
His grandchildren were the delight of his life and he took great joy in each new thing they accomplished. Although he did many things, his four great loves were God, his family, gardening and the United States Navy.
After the last sixteen months of dealing with cancer he would say with St. Paul in 2 Timothy 4:6b-8a: “…the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. From now on there is reserved for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give me…” (NRSV)
A Memorial Service will be Saturday, August 17, at 11 AM at Asbury United Methodist Church at 149 South Main Street, Woodstown, NJ. Visitation and greeting will be at the church from 9 – 11 AM.
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