George P. Murphy, Easton mayor, dies Longtime official, 75

heart attack suspected

June 10, 1996|By Gary Cohn | Gary Cohn,SUN STAFF

George P. Murphy, the mayor of Easton for the past 17 years and a tireless advocate of affordable housing for the elderly, collapsed and died Saturday morning of an apparent heart attack while preparing to plant flowers in his yard. He was 75.

Mr. Murphy, a native of the Eastern Shore, was active in politics in Easton for nearly three decades. He was elected to the Town Council in 1969 and later served as its president. He was elected mayor in 1979 and re-elected four times, most recently in 1995.

"He was an individual who knew what he wanted to do for the town of Easton," said Eugene Price, a retired businessman and former president of the Town Council. "He was all for helping people in the town."

Council President Eugene Butler, will temporarily assume Mr. Murphy's duties. An election for mayor will be held later this year.

As mayor, Mr. Murphy vigorously worked to obtain state and federal grants to provide low-cost housing to the elderly. He was largely responsible for Asbury Place, an apartment complex for the elderly that opened last year.

Town officials said Mr. Murphy also helped bring businesses and jobs to Easton, worked for better fire and police protection and played a key role in the restoration of the Avalon Theater.

"He was not just one to tell you 'Get this done,' " said Robert Coleman, a former town official who worked closely with Mr. Murphy. "He would follow it through."

Mr. Murphy had some health problems in recent years, but continued to work at an active pace. "We kept after him, [saying] 'George, slow up. ' He'd just look at me and keep on going."

Mr. Murphy was born in Queen Anne's County on June 16, 1920. He attended Baltimore College of Commerce, and studied accounting. He served in the Army Medical Corps during World War II.

He met his wife, Laura, who was in the Navy, in Seattle. The couple celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary last December.

After the war, Mr. Murphy moved to Easton, where he first worked for a finance company and later bought a retail jewelry store, which he operated for 27 years. He retired in 1987.

A son, Michael Murphy of Preston, said his father loved to go to Orioles games and particularly admired Cal Ripken.

"It was the iron man in him [Ripken], that he kept playing. That's how my father was. If he was tired, he still got up and went to the council meeting. If he had something in sight, he went out and got it done," he said.

On Thursday, Mr. Murphy attended an Orioles game at Camden Yards with town officials. He was in good spirits during the game and led the way back to the car.

"It was a pretty good hike," said Councilman Hoyt Heinmuller. "He made it back first. He was doing better than the rest of us."

A funeral will be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday at St. Mark's United Methodist Church in Easton. Burial will be at Woodlawn Memorial Park in Easton.

Other survivors include his wife; two other sons, David Murphy of Kennesaw, Ga., and James Murphy of Mount Pleasant, S.C.; two sisters, Jane E. Snyder of Chester and Betty A. Drummer of Centreville; and seven grandchildren.

Pub Date: 6/10/96

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