Lawrence A. Murphy, 80, last elected Criminal Court clerk

November 07, 1998|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Lawrence A. Murphy, the last elected clerk of the old Criminal Court who rose to become chief deputy clerk of the Baltimore Circuit Court, died Thursday of respiratory failure at his home in the Kensington section of Southwest Baltimore. He was 80.

Mr. Murphy's lifelong interest in politics began when he was growing up in the South Baltimore rowhouse where he was born, above his father's saloon at Cross and Leadenhall streets.

The son of Gerald "Sonny" Murphy and Eva Murphy, Irish immigrants, Mr. Murphy was exposed at an early age to political jargon from customers who came to the saloon to discuss politics and the events of the day over a shot of whiskey or a beer or two.

A 1937 graduate of Mount St. Joseph High School, Mr. Murphy was a graduate of Strayer Business College.

An amiable man with a wide smile and easygoing demeanor, Mr. Murphy began his 40-year career in the late 1930s as a junior clerk in the courthouse, where during his 40-year tenure he earned the admiration of judges, lawyers and other courthouse regulars.

He entered the Criminal Court clerk's office in 1952 and seven years later became a courtroom clerk.

He was later appointed supervisor of court clerks and coordinator of assignments. In 1971, he was named chief aide to George F. J. Brown, then Criminal Court chief deputy, an elected position.

After Mr. Brown retired in 1974, Mr. Murphy was appointed to complete his term; he was elected to two full four-year terms in 1974 and 1978, making him the last elected clerk before the 1982 Court Consolidation Bill.

The reorganization of the Supreme Bench resulted in the elimination of six clerks in favor of one who is elected to the Circuit Court.

In addition to being responsible for all recordkeeping and filings, Mr. Murphy was in charge of the clerical help who worked in the Criminal Court.

He retired in 1990.

"He was one of the most affable men I've ever known. He was both congenial and dedicated to his work," said Circuit Judge John Carroll Byrnes.

"He was also highly esteemed by all the judges and served this court very well," Judge Byrnes said yesterday.

"He loved his job and was a great people person," said a son, Del. Timothy D. Murphy of Baltimore. "He was a cheerful provider of information and made sense out of an environment of chaos."

Mr. Murphy said his father was adept at shorthand and often took notes in shorthand on tablecloths or anything else that was handy while attending political gatherings.

"He could tell me exactly what was said," the son said.

In 1973, he was named S.O.B. of The Year -- an award whose name brought him great amusement -- by the Society of Bailiffs to honor a favorite courthouse worker, said his son.

During World War II, Mr. Murphy worked in the personnel department of Maryland Shipbuilding & Drydock Co. in South Baltimore and was often summoned to drive the company's ambulance to take injured workers to hospitals or doctor's offices.

It was on one of those occasions that he met Delphia H. Charters, a secretary in a doctor's office. They married in 1945.

Mr. Murphy was a member of the Holy Name Society and was active in the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick.

He enjoyed fishing and golfing.

A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 10 a.m. Monday at Our Lady of Victory Roman Catholic Church, 4416 Wilkens Ave.

Besides his wife and son, he is survived by another son, Lawrence P. Murphy of Pleasanton, Calif.; a daughter, Sharon Sambuco of Baltimore; a brother, Donald Murphy of New Jersey; and five grandchildren.

Memorial donations may be made to the Little Sisters of the Poor, 601 Maiden Choice Lane, Baltimore 21228.

Pub Date: 11/07/98

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