Morristown officials mourn loss of Tim Murphy, board member and former firefighter

MORE DATA, PLEASE: Morristown Planning Board Vice Chairman Tim Murphy asked two applicants to return with more info. Photo by Kevin Coughlin, March 23, 2017.
Morristown Planning Board Vice Chairman Tim Murphy in March 2017. Photo by Kevin Coughlin, March 23, 2017.
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Morristown Planning Board Vice Chairman Tim Murphy had been battling cancer for some time. But his death this week took colleagues by surprise.

“He never complained once to me. He had a real good attitude,” said Mayor Tim Dougherty, who had breakfast with Murphy earlier this month at the Swiss Chalet.

Murphy died early Wednesday at Morristown Medical Center. He was 64.

Planning board Chairman Joe Stanley, left, and Vice Chair Tim Murphy peruse plans at Cambria hotel hearing, March 16, 2017. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Planning board Chairman Joe Stanley, left, and Vice Chair Tim Murphy peruse plans at Cambria hotel hearing, March 16, 2017. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

The Morristown native retired as a captain from the town fire department in 2000, and worked as a fire safety coordinator at the Morris County Jail until 2013. He served on the town zoning board with Dougherty, who later appointed him to the planning board.

Murphy attended the most recent planning board meeting, in late September.

“No matter what, he would say, ‘I’m feeling okay, I’m doing better.’ He was not the kind of guy to wallow in pity,” said board Chairman Joe Stanley. “I have nothing but respect for him.”

“He’ll be greatly missed. He was one of the nicest people you could ever meet,” said town Zoning Officer James Campbell.

Tim Murphy retired from the Morristown fire department as a captain in 2000.
Tim Murphy retired from the Morristown fire department as a captain in 2000.

“He truly, truly cared for and loved this town,” said Fire Chief Robert Flannagan, describing Murphy as a great firefighter who was respected for his candor. “He was a man who shot from the hip, who told it like it was.”

That’s one of the traits Dougherty admired most.

“He was very truthful with me, very matter-of-fact. He didn’t hold things back. Just an all-around great guy. It’s a devastating loss to the community,” the Mayor said.

Planning board member Debra Gottsleben said Murphy did not always see eye to eye on town politics with her husband, former Mayor Jay DeLaney Jr., “but Tim was always a gentleman and the disagreements over policy never swayed his ongoing civility.”

The same held true on the board, where he “always treated each applicant with courtesy, even if he disagreed with the project. I am going to miss Tim — as a friend and as a colleague on planning board. Morristown lost a treasure in Tim,” Gottsleben said. 

A graduate of the Catholic Bayley-Ellard High School in Madison, Murphy joined the Morristown fire department as a volunteer in 1974 and was hired there as a firefighter in 1980. The next year he became an arson investigator. He was promoted to captain in 1989.

Murphy is survived by his wife, Kathryn, and by their children, Timothy Jr. and Catherine.

A wake is scheduled for Monday, Oct. 22, 2018, from 4 pm to 8 pm, at Morristown’s Doyle Funeral Home, 106 Maple Ave.  A funeral service will follow at 10 am on Tuesday, Oct. 23, at St. Margaret’s Church, at 6 Sussex Ave. across from the fire station.

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1 COMMENT

  1. Grew up almost next door to Timmy Murphy and his family on Atno Ave . He was the Youngest of 10 children. Came from a very nice family. His parents , brothers and sisters were wonderful people.
    I met Bobby Kennedy , the younger brother of John F Kennedy at the Murphy home during JFK’s run for the presidency. Timmy called me up and said “ hey Boddy Kennedy is here, come on over!”
    He was brought over there in Morristown by Robert Tracy who was connected in local politics to Tim’s dad who also was involved in local politics. Bobby Kennedy was very very friendly and everybody seemed so happy there at the Murphy home and they usually were.
    My prayers and thoughts go out to his wife, children and family.
    As kids we hung out together ,played endless hours of baseball , spent time at so many Morristown high school football and baseball games.
    He worked with my father Steven France when he was the fire chief in town.
    Feel sad at this time but was so blessed to know a wonderful father, husband , son , brother , friend , firefighter and public servent.
    Few people knew Morristown as well as Timmy did. He will be missed and thought of often. He was very funny , and had a great wit as well. Always enjoyed talking to him about Morristown both the old and the new days.
    God bless you Tim.

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