Patrick V. Murphy

Attorney belonged to local chapter of the National Alliance for Mental Illness and was a peer group facilitator

May 27, 2010|By Jacques Kelly, The Baltimore Sun

Patrick V. Murphy, an attorney who fought a long struggle with schizophrenia and volunteered with the National Alliance for Mental Illness, died May 21 in North Baltimore. He was 37.

Family members said he ended his own life and had spent two decades in medical treatment for his condition.

"Patrick struggled with mental and emotional problems most of his life," said the Rev. William Au at a funeral Tuesday at SS. Philip and James Roman Catholic Church. "He waged a battle with depression and anger that most people could not understand."

Born in Philadelphia, he moved to Baltimore with his parents as a child and lived in the Evergreen section of North Baltimore. He attended Roland Park Elementary School and was a 1990 graduate of Loyola High School at Blakefield. He earned a bachelor's degree in history and journalism at the University of Richmond.

"Patrick had a bubbling personality and an infectious smile," said an uncle, attorney John C. Murphy of Baltimore. "Then there were dark periods that would descend on this outgoing, likable person."

Family members said that his mental illness was diagnosed while he was a high school student. His physicians initially diagnosed a bipolar disorder and later schizophrenia.

"It was through a heroic force of will that my brother persevered to receive his law degree from the University of Baltimore in 2003," said his sister, Julia E. Murphy, an architect who lives in Brooklyn, N.Y.

His uncle said that he failed some courses and was placed for a time on academic probation. "He persisted. He got through it. He passed the bar," his uncle said.

He was inducted into the Maryland bar in 2004 while he continued to seek treatment for his illness.

Mr. Murphy was an active member of the Baltimore chapter of the National Alliance for Mental Illness, where he served as a peer group facilitator. He was appointed to serve on the Mortality and Quality Review Committee of the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to represent the health care rights of the mentally ill.

"He took classes to become a peer facilitator," said his sister. "We noticed that it had a good impact on him and his self-esteem. As he assisted other people, he explained what it is like to be diagnosed, what is it like to be in college with mental illness. He was aware of how his condition made him different."

Mr. Murphy was a lifelong parishioner and lector at SS. Phillip and James Church. He was also a volunteer driver for the Transfiguration Parish in Southwest Baltimore. For 12 years, he picked up and delivered the elderly to services on Saturday afternoons.

Mr. Murphy recently became an enthusiastic novice sailor and was co-owner with his uncle of a boat called the Catspaw. He had what family members called "an insatiable interest for historical and political literature." He was a passionate reader and enjoyed debates on current events and politics.

After working for the Department of Housing and Community Development, he most recently worked at H&R Block in Hampden.

"He was a kind and generous man who brightened our day with his stories about biking and sailing," said a co-worker, Joyce McClay of Baltimore.

Family members said that Mr. Murphy was grieved by the death of his father, architect Michael Murphy, who suffered a fatal heart attack in February.

"Patrick was never able to exorcise the demons that locked him in anger and lack of self- worth," said Father Au in his eulogy. "Patrick desperately wanted to be 'normal' and to live a happy life. And in his way he struggled valiantly to do that."

Father Au spoke of Mr. Murphy's "noble heroism that the world could not see or understand. A heroism in which Patrick, like Don Quixote, charged demons he could not vanquish."

In addition to his sister and uncle, survivors include his mother, Paula G. Murphy of Baltimore; another uncle, Fred V. Murphy of Menlo Park, Calif.; and an aunt, Maryann Eubanks of Pittsburgh, Pa.

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