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Robert Emmett Murphy The Irish-American soul and intellect who led an exceedingly well-lived life full of family, love and groan-inducing puns, died July 31 of complications from Parkinson's Disease. He was 82. The world is a paler, duller place without him. Born in Vallejo to Michael and Margaret Murphy, Bob was genetically predisposed to enjoy the world's beauties. Part of his wonder came from the teachings of his self-made father, a career Navy man. He taught Bob a love of the sea and of humor and books and history, naming his son for the great Irish rebel. The name alone empowered Bob's independent mind. Equal impact came from his nurturing mother, born in San Francisco two days before the 1906 Earthquake. Bob used to say: "My mother denied any responsibility." The life of a Navy son meant an exotic childhood with his sister Margaret swimming on Honolulu beaches and catching iguanas in Panama. The family settled in Mountain View, affording Bob the simple pleasures of Mountain View High in post-war California. At 6-foot-3 ½, Bob was an athlete. He played football and basketball, and ran track, his favorite sport. No sport ever beat the cacophonous thrill of a track meet for Bob Murphy. He once ran against the Olympic decathlete Bob Mathias. "I had a perfect view of his back the whole way," Bob said. At Mountain View High, Bob wooed the love of his life, a beautiful Italian-American girl named Beatrice DeBenedetti. Ever since a Christmas dance in 1948, Bob and Bea never left each other's side, all the way to his last day. Their wedding was June 20, 1954, Bob in his Navy dress whites. Bob graduated from USC's Naval ROTC program in 1953, with a degree in finance. He spent the 1950s as a lieutenant junior general in the
, sailing the oceans. Bob was a
veteran, but never fired a shot in anger. Instead, his time aboard the destroyer U.S.S. Tingey provided him with adventures abroad and the treasured sight of a sunrise from the ship. Back in California, Bob took the LSAT on a whim. To the surprise of nobody who ever tried to win an argument against him, he aced the test. Bob was accepted at prestigious Boalt Hall in Berkeley. From Boalt, Bob launched his brilliant career as a deputy attorney general for the state of California. He'd walk to the bus and commute to The City daily from Mill Valley, where Bob and Bea moved in 1961. His three kids were raised on the important things. This was life according to Bob Murphy: Woody Allen comedy records, and Woody's moose-hunting adventures. The importance of reading, always reading. Life-changing movies, like "From Here to Eternity" and the household linchpin, "My Favorite Year." The value of a nap. On weekends, the hi-fi played vinyl albums, from Billie Holliday to Frank Sinatra to traditional Irish music. Nothing beat Bob's favorite, Dixieland jazz. Specifically, Turk Murphy and his Jazz Band. He and Bea danced to The Turk at Earthquake McGoon's. Bob dazzled in the courtroom, and still made it home for dinner and to the kids' games at Tam High. He cared for his parents, repaying their love. He took Bea to his beloved Hawaii, and to Europe, and for walks around the block, holding hands. When the doctor told Bob in 2000, "You have Parkinson's Disease", Bob answered: "Does he want it back?" His 14-year grapple with the ravages of Parkinson's elicited not one complaint. With each struggle, came only fight, until he could fight no more. Bob Murphy did the best he could for as long as he could, and everyone who knew him is richer for it. He is survived by his wife, Beatrice; his son Kevin (Laura); daughter, Katy; son Brian (Candace), and grandsons Conor, Declan and Rory. Donations can be made to the Parkinson's Disease Foundation.
Published in Marin Independent Journal from Aug. 5 to Aug. 10, 2014
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