Frank J. Murphy
Frank J. Murphy, 98, died peacefully at his home on July 20, 2020. He was born in Newark, NJ on June 4, 1922, only son of Peter F. and Helen (Harmon) Murphy.
Frank was a rare breed of a young man. He loved his home in Vailsburg and attended schools in Newark, before venturing out to Purdue University where he majored in Engineering. Like many men his age he left school to enlist in the Navy after Pearl Harbor to serve his country during World War II. He offered his abilities to the newly formed Construction Battalion (CB), commonly referred to as the “Seabees,” famous for the motto, “Impossible Just Takes a Little Longer.” During training, the 19th Battalion, to which Frank was assigned, was reassigned to serve in the Marine Corps, 1st Marine Division and he was soon deployed to the Pacific Theatre. His group quickly engineered and built landing strips, port facilities and a base of operations often under enemy fire. Upon returning home from the Pacific, he was redeployed to Okinawa where he witnessed the end of the war.
Frank continued his education at Newark College of Engineering, now NJIT and received a degree in Civil Engineering. He was also an electrician with 74 years of membership in IBEW. He had a very long and storied career as a project manager in construction, first building in Newark. Qualified to build the most challenging projects, he found satisfaction building four Showcase Pavilions at the 1964 New York World’s Fair on the tightest of deadlines. He then went on to manage the first multi-storied steel framed public housing project in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Because of his talent he was asked to manage Spaceship Earth, the Monorail Station, and entrance complex at Disney World Epcot Center in Orlando, with much of the work done in concert with Disney “imagineers,” and all done before computers and design visualization software. He added a stint at Euro Disneyland Theme Park in Paris and consulted widely for theme parks all over the world. He ventured west to Las Vegas to build the MGM Grand Hotel and Theme Park, recognized at the time as the largest hotel in the world, and was brought in to shave two years off the construction time. His work at MGM also involved the first transplanting of 100 foot tall mature trees, almost all of which survived with his engineering leadership. Frank never lost his passion for construction management and until the time of his passing, always said that he was just between jobs.
He was predeceased by his loyal and patient wife of 62 years, Margaret Sipes Murphy in 2009; and granddaughter Duski Wanner of Vermont in 2010.
Frank is survived by his four children, son Michael Murphy and spouse Darlene of Gordonsville, VA; daughter Kathleen Wanner and spouse George of Chittenden, VT; daughter Patrice Murphy of Henderson, NV; and son Christopher Murphy and spouse Jane of Roseland, NJ. He had 10 grandchildren; five great-grandchildren; and two great-great grandchildren.
In his younger years, Frank enjoyed downhill skiing, traveling to many parts of the country and the world for this pastime and winning a ski racing medal at 75. He loved to fly and had earned his pilot’s license. He was a lifelong Catholic, a congregant at St. Joan of Arc Church, and member of the Knights of Columbus.
Frank was an avid reader and learner who, at the age of 98, still maintained his incredible mental acuity and memory. Friends and family still came to him for historical information, business and financial advice.
In his later years, he enjoyed the best of medical care from the Veteran’s Administration of Southern Nevada and made many friends at the North Las Vegas facility. Failing vision and hearing and the onset of Parkinson’s disease required additional daily care that was faithfully provided by his caregiver Shirley Johnson from Angel Care. Shirley became like a member of the family, tending to Frank’s morning and evening needs seven days a week for nearly four years.
In September 2018, Frank had the pleasure of joining Honor Flight Southern Nevada for a whirlwind trip to Washington, DC. He was joined by several of his children, grandchildren, and caregiver Shirley for this tribute to his military service. This was a very moving experience and great privilege for all who attended. The family is so grateful to the Honor Flight volunteers who made this possible.
Frank will be buried with military honors in Graceland Cemetery, Union, NJ. There is no service. A memorial will be held at a later date in New Jersey. Donations in his memory may be made to Las Vegas Catholic Worker, 500 W Van Buren Ave, Las Vegas, NV 89106 or Honor Flight Southern Nevada, 2190 E.
Pebble Rd Suite 150 Las Vegas NV 89123.
I met Frank in January of 2016. He impacted me in more ways than I did for him. Even in his death, I continue to learn about this extraordinary man.
Frank and I met thru a common friend, Fr Leo Slatterie. We became brothers in Christ. I was blessed to be included in Frank’s circle and enjoyed Frank’s company on many special days. Learned a lot from Frank, he was highly intelligent and educated and had a mind and memory like a steel trap. He will be greatly missed and always loved. Brother in Christ, Joseph.