Sean Buller MURPHY
1924 - 2017
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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.




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Published in Monteal Gazette from Mar. 24 to Mar. 29, 2017.
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Memories & Condolences
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10 entries
March 19, 2019
Remembering Dr. Sean Murphy very fondly two years after his passing. He was like a grandfather to me, very kind and generous. I am grateful to have had him in my life. I miss you, Dr. Murphy...xo
Deborah Archibad
Friend
March 9, 2018
I remember having an animated discussion with Sean about art and the process of becoming an artist. He mentioned his book Dare to Draw - which I purchased and may have even asked him to sign it. :)
Such a pleasure to have met him on those few occasions and I am looking forward to see the exhibition at the Museum
My sincere sympathies to the family on the anniversary of his passing.
Brenda Lamb
April 1, 2017
Dr.Murphy was the instrument of my destiny.
At age22,he became my ophtalmologist.He then
convinced me to join the Museum where I met
husband.He was my mentor and my inspiration.
Louise Vernier-Blouin
Louise Vernier-Blouin
March 29, 2017
Through my friendship with Brian, I had the privilege of meeting Dr. Murphy over 40 years ago. I enjoyed our many conversations over the years. He was a special, unique human being who will be missed by the many people he touched over the years. Our prayers and condolences go out to the extended Murphy family,

Steve Gesner, Debbie Cameron, Cameron Gesner (Goddaughter of Brian), and Konrad Gesner
Stephen Gesner
March 29, 2017
Dr. Murphy will be remembered for his contribution to ophthalmology and his concern for his patients; more so, he will be remembered for his passion for the arts. He was a valued supporter of the artistic community. When the Women's Art Society of Montreal modernized and opened membership to men, Dr. Murphy was the first man to become a member. He brought new energy and for many years welcomed the organization to host its annual Holiday luncheon at the University Club; another organization that benefited from the support of Dr. Murphy. Not everyone lives a life where they give so much back to others. My condolences to his family. May he rest in peace. Leslie Cohen (former member and past-president of the Women's Art Society of Montreal; daughter of the late Avron Cohen, of B.I. Cohen opticians).
Leslie Cohen
March 27, 2017
I was so very sorry to hear of Dr. Murphy's passing.
Please accept my deepest sympathy.
Nancy Barakett (Mrs. B's daughter)
March 25, 2017
Sean Murphy made an annual visit to Les Jardins de Métis and showed a special interest in the installations that are created every year and exhibited as part of our annual international garden festival. Even after he was no longer able to come to paint the installations, he returned for an annual visit. Paul Gendron took a special pleasure in driving him about in a golf cart and learning from him as they went.

Sean was a most curious person and loved to know more on every subject that could be explored. We were thrilled to have been able to host the Metis launch for his book Dare to Draw, which was at once a book that explored his own love of drawing but also dared his readers and all those in the audience to drop their shyness and paint and thereby see the world in new ways. His love of art was inspiration and he brought to our door his admiration for the work of Jennifer Dickson and Louise Belcourt, which led to a series of talks by the former and an exhibition by the latter. Doubtless he connected connected other artists to collectors and institutions throughout his life.

He was an enlightened man and a wonderful conversationalist and his giant "ha-ha" laugh could be heard ringing across long distances. He will be missed for this and for much else.
Alexander Reford
March 25, 2017
Dr. Murphy was my ophthalmologist and saved my vision. He was a wonderful doctor and will be missed.
March 25, 2017
I found out yesterday from an ex colleague of mine in Ophthalmology of Dr. Murphy's passing. I was quite upset to learn this news. It is thanks to dear Dr. Murphy that I am now a VIP member of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts! Every now and then he would present me with tickets to go see an exhibit and I would go and enjoy. I learned to love paintings and appreciate the Arts because of him. I will always be grateful to him for this. Dr. Murphy was like a grandfather to me. He would come and visit me in the Ophthalmology Chair's office in the Royal Victoria Hospital where I used to work and we would sit and chat. Now and then I would do a bit of work for him like updating his c.v., send emails for him, etc. He was always very kind to me and we were very close. Rest in peace dear Dr. Murphy, thank you for everything. I will miss you very much. To Dr. Murphy's children, grandchildren and family: May your hearts soon be filled with wonderful memories of joyful times together as you celebrate a life well lived. My deepest condolences to all.
Debbie Archibald
March 24, 2017
Dr Sean Murphy was Honorary Chairman of the Retina Foundation of Canada, and we were very honored to have him in that position. Our sympathy goes out to his family.
Donald Walcot
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