Dr. Franklin Lee Murphy (1919 - 2014)

Obituary
  • "I was one of his Many students. He was one of the most..."
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    - Nancy Lueder
  • "To Kevn, Jana and Susan. I am so sorry about the loss of..."
    - Jan Bailey
  • "Dr. Murphy delivered me 59 years ago. He and my dad, Dr...."

FRANKLIN LEE MURPHY, M.D. (1919-2014) Oroville and Northern California have lost a beloved physician and community leader in Franklin Lee Murphy, who died quietly on August 5 in Oroville Hospital, the hospital he helped to found in 1961. Dr. Murphy was born June 6, 1919, in Anthony, Kansas. His father died in the 1919 influenza pandemic, and he was raised by his mother, her 2 sisters, and his beloved grandfather, Ed Clarkson. He grew up on the Clarkson farm driving mules, harvesting wheat and corn, and slopping hogs. In high school, he earned extra money working in dusty, dangerous grain elevators. He excelled at track, specializing in intermediate distances. Always a loyal Jayhawker, he enrolled at the University of Kansas, where he earned his way in the reptile laboratory, handling caimans. This may have been a metaphor for his subsequent career. At KU, he met his lifelong love, Virginia Ann Cannon, bested her many suitors, and married her April 9, 1941, shortly before graduation. He may have acquired his passion for medicine in the year he spent caring for his dying grandfather, who expired of tuberculosis in 1932. Accordingly, he enrolled at the University Of Kansas School Of Medicine and graduated in 1944 in a program accelerated to meet the Army's need for surgeons. He served an internship at Wesley Hospital in Wichita, where he fought a battle with the administration to improve transfusion services. The Chief of Medicine quickly recognized the young doctor's skill and reliability and soon directed that all of his personal patients be admitted by Dr. Murphy. However, his internship was cut short by the exigencies of war as well, and he was sent for service and training in surgery at Army bases in St. Louis, Virginia and Texas. After a year of service in the army of occupation in Japan, he returned briefly to teach at the University of Kansas, before beginning a residency in obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Washington. At last, in 1949, he opened his own practice of obstetrics & gynecology in Albuquerque. That lasted only a year, before he was called up again to serve as Chief of Obstetrics & Gynecology at the U.S. European Command 5th General Hospital in Bad Cannstat, Germany, this time accompanied by his young family: Kevin who had been born in 1945 and Jana in 1948. Finishing his military duty at last, Ginnie and Frank toured Northern California looking for a community in which to practice, settling happily in Oroville in the fall of 1952. This time, however, it would be a general practice, endearing himself to patients of all ages. And in that first year, February 1953, Susan Jill was born. Within a few years, it became apparent that Oroville needed a modern facility dedicated to the care of patients and focused faithfully on their needs. Dr. Murphy joined a group of other physicians and community leaders in founding Oroville Hospital, originally called Oroville Medical Arts Center. The hospital was dedicated in the winter of 1961. Dr. Murphy subsequently served 2 terms as Chief of Staff and as Chairman of the Ambulatory Care Committee. He trained himself in pulmonary care and launched the new intensive care unit, serving thereafter as Co-director and then as medical director of the Department of Respiratory Therapy. Following retirement from active practice, he continued to serve the hospital as consultant for quality assurance for the Outreach Medical Unit, and as consultant to the hospital's Industrial Medicine Program. Throughout his 62 years in Oroville, Dr. Murphy served local and national professional associations. He was president of the Butte-Glen Medical Society 1963-64 and served subsequently on its board of directors. He was its delegate to the California Medical Association 1964-1986. He chaired the county society's legislative and professional standards review committees, was its liaison to the county health departments, and served on the Ad Hoc Advisory Committee on AIDS. As a member of the California Medical Association, he chaired its Committee on Rural Health and its Reference Committee, as well as serving on the Commission on Medical Services. At the American Medical Association, he served on its Rural Health Committee and, from 1978-82, on its Resolutions Committee. Dr. Murphy worked closely with Dr. John Tupper, the founding dean of the UC Davis School of Medicine, particularly during Dr. Tupper's presidencies of the CMA in 1979 and the AMA in 1990-91, on a variety of legislative and sociomedical issues of concern to both men. In addition, Dr. Murphy served on the Board of Directors of Blue Cross from 1971-1980 and on its Physician Advisory Committee 1980-89. He served on the board of directors of the Superior California Professional Standards Review Organization, both as member and president. He served on the board of directors of the Lung Association of Northern California, 1979-81. He was a long-time member of the Rotary Club of Oroville and served as its president in 1979-80. Just as Ginny supported Frank in this intense professional activity, he supported her in many community service, including her service on the school board, community concerts, the Oroville Community Center, and the California State Scholarship Commission. Together they served on the founding board of Butte College and have worked tirelessly to support the College since its inception. Both were stalwart members of the First Congregational Church, serving on its board and committees. They were also partners in the pursuit of fish throughout the world, including trout from throughout North America, the chalk rivers of England & Ireland, the mill streams of Germany and the lakes of New Zealand, not to mention tarpon in Costa Rica and marlin in Cabo San Lucas. Fish will not remember them fondly. However, they will be remembered with deep love and affection by their children and grandchildren for firm and loving guidance and support over the last nearly 70 years. Both will be remembered by friends as loyal, generous and devoted. Frank Murphy will be remembered by his patients and colleagues as gentle, caring and skillful, and as the embodiment of Dr. Edward Livingston Trudeau's admonition that a physician should "Cure sometimes, relieve often, and comfort always." He will be remembered by his community as a visionary builder of reliable institutions. Frank was predeceased by his wife of 65 years, Virginia Ann Cannon Murphy, and is survived by 3 children: Dr. F. Kevin Murphy and his wife Rachael, Jana Black and her husband Bill, and Susan Lewis Onstot and her husband Gregg. He leaves behind 5 grandchildren: David B. Murphy, Scott Lewis, Kyle Lewis, Devon Blunden and Megan McClellan. He is also survived by his step-grandchildren Scott Black and his wife Lauren, Jamie Phillips and her husband Tyler and 2 great- grandchildren, Ashton and Camden Phillips. A memorial service will be held on Saturday, August 16, at 11 am at the First Congregational Church of Oroville. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in his name to the First Congregational Church, 1715 Bird St, Oroville, 95966 or to Butte College at 3536 Butte Campus Drive, Oroville, 95965.
Published in Chico Enterprise-Record on Aug. 12, 2014
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