Longtime University spokesman James Murphy dies at 78


James E. Murphy, retired associate vice president for University relations at the University of Notre Dame, died Monday (Sept. 2) at Holy Cross Care and Rehabilitation Center in South Bend after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease. He was 78.p. Murphy came to Notre Dame as a student in 1941 and, after serving in the Army Air Force during World War II, completed his bachelor’s degree in English in 1947. After graduate studies at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, he worked as a news editor for the American Broadcasting Company and in public relations with the American Legion national headquarters.p. Murphy returned to Notre Dame in 1952 and for the next four decades served as the University’s chief public relations officer. During that time he served as a press officer to two University presidents, Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C., and Rev. Edward A. Malloy, C.S.C., as well as a former president, Rev. John J. Cavanaugh, C.S.C.p. Murphy’s responsibilities included media relations, special events programming, alumni relations, and public relations support for five University capital campaigns. He was a liaison to White House and Secret Service personnel for campus visits by Presidents Eisenhower, Ford, Carter, Reagan and Bush. He accompanied Father Hesburgh to the White House to present the University’s 1961 Laetare Medal to President Kennedy and coordinated numerous University events involving U.S. and international dignitaries, entertainment figures and business leaders.p. After having witnessed Notre Dame’s centennial as a sophomore in 1942, Murphy culminated his Notre Dame career 50 years later as executive director of the University’s 13-month observance of its sesquicentennial.p. Active over the years in many community and professional organizations, including the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), Murphy was also a musician by avocation and served as principal organist and choir director at Saint Anthony DePadua Church in South Bend from 1954 to 1986. Murphy was born Nov. 16, 1923, to Robert L. and Helen A. Murphy in Indianapolis, where he was raised. He married Barbara Lill in Fort Wayne on May 19, 1951.p. Murphy is survived by his wife; six children, James Jr., Peter; Michael, Mary, Daniel and Kate Rose; nine grandchildren; and two brothers, Robert O. Murphy and Rev. Thomas J. Murphy.p. A Mass of Christian Burial will take place at 9:30 a.m. Thursday (Sept. 5) in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart at Notre Dame. Burial will follow in Cedar Grove Cemetery on campus. Friends may call from 4 to 8 p.m. Wednesday (Sept. 4) in the Kaniewski Funeral Home, 3545 N. Bendix Drive, where a parish vigil will be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday.

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