By Scott O’Connell
Daily News Staff
Posted Jan. 3, 2015 @ 6:36 pm
FRAMINGHAM – According to those who knew her, Mary Murphy was not the type who wanted eulogies for her passing.
“She didn’t want a service – she wanted a celebration,” said the longtime Framingham resident’s daughter-in-law, Annie Murphy. “She wanted people to tell their stories to each other. And everyone has a story about Mary.”
More than a hundred people gathered at Village Hall on Saturday afternoon to fulfill Murphy’s late wishes. Proving her daughter-in-law correct, nearly anybody who was asked lit up when talking about their beloved family member, friend, neighbor or colleague, who died at age 87 on Dec. 14.
“She did so many things in life – she mentored everybody she came into contact with in some capacity,” said Elsa Hornfischer, who met Murphy while working on a town history project in the late 1990s.
A native of Dorchester, Murphy settled down in Framingham with her husband, Phillip, in 1952, and from there became inseparable from the community. She served on the local school board, was president of the town’s historical society and worked as an English professor at Framingham State University.
“She had an impact on every piece of the community,” Annie Murphy said. “She had so many causes. But she was also just a great friend. She always listened to you, would remember your children’s and grandchildren’s names.”
“She made you feel confident, the way she spoke to you,” said Jennifer Toth, who worked with Murphy years ago on the Framingham History Center’s annual house tour. “And she was incredibly smart – just the most lovely person.”
Murphy also had a passion for her political causes, and was a staunch advocate for the Democrats, serving as a presidential delegate for the party on three occasions. For Hornfischer, Murphy was a trailblazer in that respect.
“She was just a great example” of a politically involved woman, she said. “She gave us a way to live.”
For all Murphy gave to her town, she got back as well, though, said her son, Edward Murphy.
“She was such a part of the community, but at the same time, the community was a part of her,” he said.
“She loved the town so much,” added Murphy’s daughter, Marianne Wilson, who said the family buried their mother’s ashes in a private ceremony earlier on Saturday.
Ernest Greenberg, who along with his wife, Libby, were longtime neighbors of Murphy, recalled how her house strategically faced down their street – “she could always see what was going on,” he said.
“She was just a wonderful lady,” he said. “Interesting, accomplished, a delight to talk to.”
The only thing she wasn’t, apparently, was willing to be the center of attention at her own memorial service. But Edward Murphy said her mother at least allowed for Saturday’s party, after he reminded her the gesture would be important “for the people (she) cared about.”
“It was her engagement with all the people that are here (today), that’s what made it so special” for her in life, he said.
Scott O’Connell can be reached at 508-626-4449 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @ScottOConnellMW