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Welcome to the memorial page for

John Tenney Murphey

September 20, 1929 ~ August 5, 2017 (age 87)

WORCESTER – John T. Murphey, 87, of Worcester, died Saturday, August 5, 2017 at home surrounded by his loving family. 

He leaves his wife of eight years, Renee M. Desjardins Murphey; a daughter, Celia J. (Murphey) Demers and her husband Raymond L. Demers of Worcester; a son, Peter Murphey and his wife Danielle Herold of Rochester,NY; three grandchildren, Adrian J. & Tessa M. Demers (Worcester) and Tenney L. Murphey (Rochester). He also leaves his nephews Jeffrey K. Murphey, Phillip K. Murphey and his wife Shelly, of Dayton, OH; a great-nephew, Nicholas Murphey of Arizona; and a great-niece, Rebecca Murphey with the U.S. Air Force in Germany. He leaves a brother-in-law, Cole Baker, his wife Cathleen and a neice, Christina of Westport, CT., and nephews Keith Baker, of Wrentham, MA and Daniel (Blum) Goldhaber (raised in Burlington, VT).

He leaves two sisters in law, Denise and her husband Steve Kirk of Millbury, Michelle and her husband Chuck Boisvert, of Idaho; and a brother in law, Joseph Desjardins and his wife Jan, of New Hampshire.  He also leaves nephews Marc Boisvert and Eric and Michael Desjardins, and nieces Lauren Trana and Claire Desjardins, as well as a grand-nephew and three grand-nieces in Idaho.

He also leaves a dearest life-long friend, Ernest VonNardoff of New Jersey.  John’s first wife, Marilyn (Brown) Murphey, passed away in 2010.

He was born in Hamilton, Bermuda, son of Helmut Duberg and Amy (Towne) Murphey and grew up in Europe until 1939, when with his mother and brother, Alan, he returned to NYC ahead of the outbreak of WW2.  A friend of his mother’s, Bill O’Brien, was like a father to him.

Professor Murphey studied Music Composition for clarinet and piano at Rollins College in Florida (1947-49). He was a graduate of the Academie Julian in Paris (1949-51). He served in the U.S. Army in Germany and France from 1951-55, attaining the rank of Sergeant. 

He graduated with a dual degree in Fine Arts & Education (1956-59) from Tufts University/Boston Museum School. Known for his riveting discussions on art history, Professor Murphey was Museum Instructor, Education Division, at the Worcester Art Museum (1960-65); an Associate Professor of Fine Arts at Clark University (1965-73); and Head of the Fine Arts program at Becker College (1973-2007). He also served as an adjunct faculty member at Assumption College, Clark University, Fitchburg State College and Worcester State College. He was beloved for his warm and encouraging teaching style.

He exhibited his own work in France, Boston and Worcester; published articles; and was nominated for the National Education Association Professor of the Year Award in 2000. He was named Professor Emeritus when he retired from Becker College in 2007, the only teacher at Becker to receive that distinction.

John was an enthusiastic promoter of art and a popular lecturer, speaking to students and groups in the Worcester area throughout his career. He also curated many exhibits, including one featuring motorcycles as art at Clark University in the 1970s. In 2012 he wrote a book called, “The Other Experience: Some Thoughts about Art” that detailed his unique ideas about what makes something art.  As an artist John painted in a modern, uniquely serendipitous style using lots of color. Many of his paintings were of the human face, or groups of people. He liked including birds, horned bulls, the moon, flags, angels and flowers. He also drew in pencil and ink.

He wrote poetry throughout his life, the earliest recorded poem at the age of 19. His poetry was in turns whimsical, elegantly descriptive, philosophical and, at times quite dark. He will be most remembered for his kindness, gentleness, curiosity, his sweet “horrible” puns and, especially, his ‘joie de vivre.’

A Memorial Service will be held on Saturday, August 12th, 2017 at noon at All Saints Episcopal Church, 10 Irving St, Worcester.  Burial will be private.  There are no calling hours.  Rice Funeral Home, 300 Park Ave, Worcester, is in care of arrangements.  Donations may be made to the Worcester Art Museum’s Joseph and Shirley Krosoczka Memorial Youth Scholarship Fund.


Charitable donations may be made to:

Joseph and Shirley Krosoczka Memorial Youth Scholarship
55 Salisbury St, Worcester MA 01609
Tel: 1-508-799-4406
Web: http://www.studiojjk.com/joeandshirlscholarships.html



 Service Information

Memorial Service
Saturday
August 12, 2017

12:00 PM
All Saints Episcopal Church - Worcester
10 Irving St
Worcester, MA 01609


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