Donald Murphy(1935 - 2014)

Donald Andrew Murphy

Helena —The sound of piano music throughout many locations in the Helena community was noticeably silenced on Saturday, January 18, 2014. Donald Andrew Murphy, a lifelong resident of Helena and pianist lost his courageous medical battle and passed into the hands of his lord and savior Jesus Christ at Saint Peters Hospital.

Donald was born March 5, 1935 in Columbus hospital, Great Falls, MT to Joseph Mathew Murphy and Ann P. Karaffa. His birth mother died at the time Donald was born. He was raised by his aunt and uncle, Elizabeth German and Maurice German who he considered his beloved parents. Donald was always proud to tell people he had three mothers, Ann his birth mother, Aunt Elizabeth, his beloved mother, and Mary Murphy, his step-mother who adopted him later in life.

Donald attended schools in Helena, graduating from Cathedral High School. Later he attended Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington and graduated from Carroll College and Eastern Montana Colleges with degrees in education and English. While growing up in Helena, Donald was active in church activities, the Brewery Theater and learned to play piano. As a high school student he frequently played at the Montana Club. He became an elementary school teacher, teaching in rural schools, a military base in Alaska and for over 30 years in the Helena School District. He taught in Smith and Four Georgian schools. His students would remember his tap dancing on top of his desk at the end of the year, if his students completed certain reading requirements. He loved the profession of education. Donald retired from teaching in 1989.

Donald shared his music talents with many clubs and organizations. He played for religious services at Touchmark and social music for clubs and organizations, senior citizens center, Metropolitan Club dinners, nursing homes and many other requests. He seldom turned down a request to play and seldom sought compensation. He was a member and former music cantor at Saint Helena Cathedral parish, and Saint Mary church. He believed music was his gift he could share. He was a member of the Helena Kiwanis Club, former parish council member and active with the retired teachers association.

Survivors include his brothers, Dr. Joseph J. Murphy and Timothy Murphy of Great Falls and Richard Shanahan of Bozeman; Aunt Margaret Olson of Great Falls; and close friend, Betty Scow of Helena. He also is survived by numerous nieces and nephews scattered throughout the country, Kerry Murphy of Downey, CA, Deborah Murphy of Sun Valley, ID, Sean Murphy and Mathew Murphy of Ketchum, ID, Maureen Murphy Mosteller of Calgary, Jessica Murphy of Missoula, Padden Murphy of San Francisco, CA, Connor Murphy and Addison Murphy of Great Falls, Charlie Murphy and Patrick Shanahan of Bozeman, and Joey Murphy who maintained constant contact and would liven Donald's day with witty cards and surprise visits.

In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by Aunt Elizabeth German, Uncle Maurice German, and Mary Murphy; and nephew Michael Shanahan.

Donald had many friends and neighbors who helped him through life's journey, particularly in recent months. A special thank you is extended to longtime friend Joan Jezick, Shelley Miller, Mike Johnson, Karlee Smith, Mark Scow, Betty Scow, Monsignor Joseph Harrington, Don Creel, and Rick Bartos. Donald would have wanted to acknowledge special friend, Dusty Duensing former owner of the Parrott Candy Store, and staff at Touchmark and the Lewis and Clark County Library. Acknowledgement of appreciation is also extended to Drs. David Travis, Donald Skillman, Cindy Ford, and Jean Justad for their care and medical attention. Special acknowledgment and appreciation is also extended to Dr. Lee Harrison and the nurses at Saint Peters Hospital for their patience, care and understanding during Donald's illness.

A Rosary will be prayed, Tuesday, January 21, 2014 at 6:00 p.m. at the Cathedral of St. Helena. Mass of the Resurrection will be celebrated at 12:00 p.m. Wednesday, January 22, 2014 at the Cathedral of Saint Helena. Interment services will follow at Resurrection Cemetery. A reception will follow in the Brondel Center of the Cathedral after the burial.

Donald would have preferred memorials to the Cathedral of Saint Helena Endowment Fund, 530 North Ewing, or to Saint Andrew School, 1900 Flowerree, Helena. To leave a condolence to the family or to share a memory of Donald, please visit

Funeral Home

Anderson Stevenson Wilke Funeral Home & Crematory
3750 N Montana Ave Helena, MT 59602
(406) 442-8520

Published in Great Falls Tribune on Jan. 21, 2014