MURPHY, Dr. Sean Buller
1924 – 2017
With much sadness and some relief that his trials with Alzheimer's are over, we announce that Sean Murphy passed away peacefully in his sleep at the Chateau Westmount in Montreal, on March 16, 2017.
Born in London, England, January 25, 1924 , he was the only child of artists John J.A. Murphy (1888-1967) and Cecil T. Buller (1888-1973). Loving husband of Elizabeth Anne Blake (1929-2015). Beloved father of Gaill, Brian (Mary), and Carolyn "Pix". Cherished grandfather of Sarah Welsh, Graham Thompson, Erin (Dylan Templin), and Peter, and great- grandfather of Damian Welsh.
Dr. Murphy had a distinguished career in the field of ophthalmology and a strong personal relationship with many of his patients. A 1943 graduate of Harvard, Dr. Murphy received his medical degree from McGill in 1947. From 1952 to 1955 he served in the Royal Canadian Air Force, where he was in charge of ophthalmological services. Then in 1955 he joined the McGill Department of Ophthalmology and the staff of the Royal Victoria Hospital. In 1970 Dr. Murphy was appointed Ophthalmologist-in-Chief, and in 1975, Professor and Chairman of the McGill Department of Ophthalmology where he served until 1986. He returned for three years as Interim Chairman of the McGill Department in 1991 and continued on as an Emeritus Professor of Ophthalmology. He has also served as President of the Canadian Ophthalmological Society and received their lifetime achievement award in 2007. He chronicled the history of ophthalmology at McGill in a book published in 2005.
Sean had a deep love of beauty, the arts, and museums. He served as President of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (1968-78) and has been an Honorary President since 1980, remaining actively involved until recently. He established the "Drawing in the Museum" program in 2000. He has been on the Executive committee of the Canada Council and chairman of the Board of Trustees of the National Museums of Canada. In 1996, he established the Cecil Buller Annual Bursary for Needy Teachers at the Visual Arts Centre and in 1999, the Annual John J.A. Murphy Cecil Buller Prize in Drawing at Concordia University. He was a member of the Board of Directors of The Canadian Federation of Friends of Museums since 1988 and President since 1995. He has also been on the Board of Directors of the World Federation of Friends of Museums since 1988 and was made Vice-President in 1997. His efforts in the fields of art and ophthalmology led him to receive the Order of Canada in 1976.
Sean was also an avid watercolourist, a passion which was fueled by his sensitive, creative, curious nature as well as his delightful sense of whimsy and playfulness. In 2000, he had a solo exhibition of his watercolours at Galerie Sous Le Passe-Partout in Montreal. His dream to inspire others to know the joy of painting and drawing led him in 2010 to write and self-publish, "Dare to Draw", in which he shared the fun and pleasure of his drawing adventures. In addition to his many honours and accomplishments, both professional and personal, Sean was a true gentleman and a wonderful colleague, friend, husband and father. He was an inspiring example of how to live life with integrity, commitment, and dedication, and was a kind and gentle soul who touched many. We will cherish him forever.
A memorial service will be held on Saturday, April 1, 2017 at Church of Saint-Leon-de-Westmount, 4311 Maisonneuve Boulevard West, Montreal, QC H3Z 1L1 at 2 p.m. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts or the Alzheimer Society of Canada.