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.
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.
“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.