R.I.P: John Murphy, poet, volunteer, favorite son of Morristown,

John Murphy
John Murphy


Morristown lost one of its favorite sons recently when John Daniel Murphy, 86, passed away peacefully at home on May 16, 2019.

Murphy was a true son of Morristown, having been born in All Soul’s Hospital, and living in town his entire life.

The son of Irish immigrants, he spent much of his life living in the town’s “Dublin” neighborhood, and attended The Bayley School on Madison Street. John served in the United States Army during the Korean Conflict, from 1953-1955.

Upon his return from the service, he was employed in the Shipping and Receiving Department of Morristown Electric Co. for 35 years.

Murphy was a caring, loving man who lost his father and older brother at an early age. He was utterly devoted to his mother, and cared for her in her elder years until she too passed away.

Murphy loved his hometown of Morristown, and was a long-time member of the 1st Ward Hose Company, serving as Volunteer Chief during the mid 1960’s, and pitcher for the fire company’s softball team.

He also volunteered as an ambulance driver for the former All Souls Hospital in the 1950’s, and during the 1990’s was a volunteer delivering Meals on Wheels. For a time during his 70’s, he volunteered for the Morris Area Community Blood Program for its blood drives at the Mt. Kemble Firehouse.

For many years, the Local History librarians of The Joint Free Public Library of Morristown and Morris Township would consult with Murphy when they needed someone to identify a person or building in an old photograph.

They would come to visit Murphy where he held court daily on stool Number 14 at the Dublin Pub, and bring him pictures to identify. He rarely failed. His memory was legendary.

Although Murphy left high school before graduating to help support his mother, he was a natural poet, and composed numerous poems which were noted for their simple heart-felt sentiments. Several were published in local newspapers, and he even received an acknowledgment note from Jacqueline Kennedy for a poem he wrote and sent her after the death of the President.

He was self-conscious about his lack of education and would respond to compliments about his poetry by saying “I wrote from the heart.”

Known for his sense of humor, Murphy’s corny jokes were, throughout town, referred to as “Murphyisms.”

Murphy was predeceased by his wife, the love of his life, Kathleen Murphy (née O’Donnell), whom he adored. Though they met and married later in life, they had many wonderful years together before she passed away in 1995. John Murphy greatly enjoyed their trips to Ireland in particular.

Although he had no living family in the area, Murphy is survived by many, many friends, some going back to his childhood.

Hours of visitation are from 4 to 7 p.m. Monday at the Doyle Funeral Home, 106 Maple Ave., Morristown. The Morristown Fire Department will be honoring Murphy at his wake, and the US Army will be providing a full military funeral with honors.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at the Assumption Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary, 91 Maple Ave. in Morristown, on Tuesday at 10 a.m. Interment is at Holy Rood Cemetery, Morristown.

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  1. I recall Johnny Murphy as a first asst fire chief with my father Steve France , in the Morristown fire dept. They worked well together.
    He was a very good guy.
    Sorry for his passing.
    Good memories of John Murphy.

  2. Johnny Murphy was a great Friend to My Mom, Pat Morong and our Family. When he would come to visit -a trip to Carvel Ice Cream was always included. As us Kids ate our soft serve ice cream he would tell us poems. We would tell him a word and then in a couple minutes he would tell us the poem!! We love you and will miss you!

  3. John Murphy was a sweet, humble little man who never had an unkind word for anyone. Those of us who knew him were blessed by his presence in our lives. He will be greatly missed.