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Poughkeepsie - Jean Crotty Murphy, 90, longtime resident of the Town of Poughkeepsie, died December 9, 201 of complications following an automobile accident. She was born June 2, 1923 in Brooklyn, N.Y. to Elsie B. Smith, a nurse and descendent of the Long Island Smiths and Overtons, and John Francis Crotty, a reporter for the Brooklyn Eagle and later a lawyer. She earned her degree from Packer Collegiate Institute in Brooklyn before interrupting her education to marry Robert W. Murphy, an ensign in the Navy early in World War II. They relocated to Boston where he trained to be a radar officer at Harvard and later taught there. He was then assigned to a destroyer squadron in the Pacific, moving with the flag to another ship each time one was disabled by kamikaze or torpedo. He was at sea for two years while she moved, homeless, back and forth between her parents' home and her in-laws with their son. Raymond was two years old before he saw his father and cried at the reunion taking him for a stranger. In 1951 they moved to Poughkeepsie where he worked for IBM until retiring. She toiled as a housewife and mother of five children while "The feeling set in that in marriage and motherhood I was a service to everyone but I was losing myself". She began a lifetime of involvement in organizations including Cub Scouts (her children still sing the marching songs she made up), The Home Bureau (sneaking stuff she bought at rummage sales in through the cellar), The Hudson Valley Philharmonic, The League of Women Voters, and the Dutchess County Women's Republican Club. The club launched her career in politics when she first won an election to the post of Republican Committeewoman. She later won six terms to the Dutchess County Legislature becoming the first woman elected to Dutchess County government in 1967. She returned to school in these years earning a BA in Sociology at Vassar College in 1978, but politics was where she thought she could make a difference in the quality of people's lives, especially those with no voice. In 1969 following the suicide of a teenager who had been held without charges for a time in the Dutchess County Jail, she spearheaded a prison reform initiative. In 1972 she managed to get funding for daycare into the budget thereby assisting working mothers. She said in a speech at that time: "If we are to have a strong society we must start with strong families". She said in a 1968 interview with Gerry Baker of the Poughkeepsie Journal about her first campaign and election: "I believe I had a lot of Democratic support and don't feel I could represent a narrow party position. You can't win without the party but in the long run it's the ideas that will matter. You can compromise on the little issues but not on the big ones". This philosophy led to a crisis in 1975 when the Republican majority in the Dutchess County Legislature deleted funding for the Child Development Committee from the 1976 budget. Because of this and other actions which demonstrated indifference to the contributions and concerns of women constituents and electorate, she crossed the party line in vogting for a Democrat as chairman of the legislature. After enduring four months of being treated as a pariah to her party, she switched to the Democratic Party causing a majority/minority party inversion in the legislature. This made front page news in both the Poughkeepsie Journal and the New York Times. They didn't get it and they never forgave her. She served public causes until the end of her life heading the Town of Poughkeepsie Historic Commission and as Town Historian promoted interest in local history and preservation. In her last days she often said: "I hope I live long enough to see us get our democracy back". She was predeceased by her husband and is survived by her children: Raymond and his wife Marie Pascal Leblond and their children Sabrina and Jacques of Montreal, Brian and his wife Iran Kashkooli and their sons Rosstin, Arman and Behnam of San Jose, CA, Kathryn Williams and her daughters Jean, Heather and Kamilah of Philadelphia, PA, Michaela and her husband George Auclair of Norfolk, CT, and Robert and his wife Lisa Freshler of Mt. View, AR. A memorial service will be held Saturday, December 21, 2013 from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm at Timothy P. Doyle Funeral Home, 371 Hooker Avenue, Poughkeepsie, N.Y.
Published in the Poughkeepsie Journal from Dec. 15 to Dec. 17, 2013