y cousin Chuck died this past Monday, I found out tonight from my Dad. He was my first cousin once removed, actually, Dad's first cousin, and almost a full generation older than my Dad, so I'd always seen him as more of my grandfather's generation. I had met him a few times in passing, but it was probably after Grandpa died in 2000 that I began to see him more regularly during visits. (His brother, my cousin Richard, who took up acting in late life, mostly commercials and such, has become a slightly infamous cult character as the foul-mouthed "Gramps" from the Cameron Diaz movie The Sweetest Thing
, which was a part I think quite embarrassed him.)
Chuck remained a local his whole life, and I enjoyed the times when I was visiting Dad that we would go over for their regular Thursday 3pm gathering at the local McDonald's for coffee with Chuck and Uncle John. The one time I especially remember
is one which I've always regretted not giving in that day to the impulse to always take my camera with me, as Dad, Johnny and Chuck all showed up in the most photogenic shirts, and made for a spectacular group shot, which only exists now, vaguely, in my head. After an hour's conversation, when we all got up to leave, Chuck took me aside and spoke to me about teaching, about the enthusiasm with which I described it, and that he said he could tell from just the way I talked that I was an excellent teacher, to never give up on such a gift of a calling, and then some other words of encouragement about my doctoral studies. The generosity of him taking me aside to say this – generous in that he did not know me well, and certainly had no "obligation" to say any such things to me, and the intensity with which he spoke, trying to make sure that I heard him and took him seriously – have stayed with me these last few years. I knew he was dying: Dad gave me regular updates, and I made sure to keep telling Dad to pass on my greetings and my news to Chuck. He had become a good friend to Dad in these later years, and he will be missed. Charles Murphy Sr.
Thursday, July 16, 2009 12:49 p.m. CDT
STERLING – Longtime Sterling resident Charles “Chuck” Murphy Sr., quarterback and captain of his high school and college football teams, was known for being a fearless tackler.
An avid golfer and bowler, he was called affectionately “the old duffer” by his four children. He also enjoyed fishing in the Rock River.
Mr. Murphy died Monday, July 13, 2009, at CGH Medical Center, after a long illness. He was 84.
He was born July 12, 1925, in Joliet, to Rose (Rish) and Peter M. Murphy Sr.. One of nine children, he and his family moved to Sterling during his childhood.
He attended St. Mary Grade School and Community High School, now Newman Central Catholic High School, graduating in 1943.
Despite being blind in one eye as a result of a childhood accident, he served as a radio operator in the Army in Europe during World War II. At the end of the war, he was chosen to organize an Army football league, and played quarterback on the team that took home the trophy. He was rewarded with a scholarship to study at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.
After the war, he was awarded a football scholarship to attend St. Mary College in Winona, Minn.
After college, he returned to Sterling and married Mary Eleanor Keefe on April 14, 1951. He took a job at Northwestern Steel and Wire Co., and worked his way up to management. He retired after 40 years at the company.
He enjoyed following professional sports teams, especially his favorites: the Chicago Cubs, the Green Bay Packers and the Chicago Bulls.
He was inducted into the Newman High School Athletic Hall of Fame.
After his retirement, he served as a volunteer assistant football coach for the Newman High School football team for several years under head coach Mike Papoccia. He also volunteered at Self Help Enterprises, which recognized him as Volunteer of the Year in 1995. He was an active member of St. Mary Parish, where he served as an usher for many years and counted Sunday donations on Monday mornings.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Mary Eleanor (Keefe) in 1993; his brothers, Peter Jr., and Michael; and his sister, Rosemary Taber.
He is survived by his four children, Maureen (James Neff) of Bothell, Wash.; Charles, Jr. (Marcia) of Darien; Margaret Rose (Mark Mayer) of University Heights, Ohio; and Thomas (Alison) of Mequon, Wis.; and by his seven grandchildren, Jameson and Christopher Neff; Stephen and Eleni Murphy; Kathryn and Mara Mayer; and Jack Murphy.
He is also survived by his brother, Richard Murphy of La Havra, Calif.; and sisters, Sally Boniecki of Chicago; Virginia Brewster of Falls Church, Va.; Patricia Tighe of Palo Alto, Calif.; Eileen Oliver of San Mateo, Calif.; close friend Lorry Burton; and the many kind and loving friends who supported and cared for him during his long illness.
Mass of Christian Burial will be at 10 a.m. Friday at St. Mary Church, Sterling, with the Rev, Donald Ahles officiating. Burial with military honors will follow at St. Mary Cemetery, Tampico.
Visitation will be from 5 to 7:30 p.m., with a rosary recited at 5 p.m., today at McDonald-Allen-Grennan Funeral Home, Sterling.
A memorial is being established in his name at Newman Central Catholic High School, Sterling.
Condolences may be sent at www.mcdonaldfuneralhomes.com on the Internet.