When Edward Murphy learned, in 1944, he was going to be deployed to Germany in the U.S. Army’s 29th Infantry Division, one of the first things he did was place a photo of the Virgin Mary in his helmet.
Growing up, the New York native had frequently attended church with his parents, and his mother Elizabeth, a devout Catholic, particularly dedicated herself to Mary.
Yet it wasn’t until he was drafted and sent overseas that his spiritual journey began, Murphy’s daughter, Regina Owens, said.
“(One night in battle), they were coming up against the enemy, he said, and it was a foggy night and they could not see. But above on the hill was the enemy with machine guns,” Owens said. “All of a sudden, all of his buddies went down, including my dad. His helmet came off, and he looked up, and the picture he saw in the helmet was the Blessed Mother. From that day forward, he was so devoted to her, always.”
Over the last seven decades, Murphy’s devotion has not wavered — something the Lawrenceville resident, who celebrated his 100th birthday on Saturday, credits to his longevity.
“Whenever I had any problems, I prayed,” he said. “I’m satisfied that I get to be 100.”
That satisfaction was shared Murphy’s family, friends, Garden Plaza at Lawrenceville staff and local law enforcement Saturday afternoon as they celebrated Murphy’s 100 years.
The birthday party also honored the man for his work as a public servant for nearly 30 years following his 1946 discharge from the Army, with both the Metro Atlanta Police Emerald Society and the Hibernian Benevolent Society of Atlanta, as well as about a dozen Gwinnett County Police Department officers, paying their respects to the man, a 20-year veteran of the New York City Police Department.
Murphy, a Purple Heart recipient, joined NYPD in 1947, serving in the 106th division in Queens.
“It was a rough time, trying to get along with all the nationalities,” Owens said. “My dad did see a lot, working in the city. It wasn’t a really good time back then, but he (kept) trying to work together in peace with all kinds of nationalities and keep everybody safe.”
After retiring from NYPD in 1967, Murphy worked as a security manager for a department store before moving his family to upstate New York, where he again served — this time as a judge in the Lake George area.
After eight years as Judge Murphy, the then-65-year-old retired for good, and 10 years ago, following the passing of his wife, Pauline, who he had married in 1942, moved to Garden Plaza.
Part of what’s kept him alive so long, Murphy said, is how active he was in his younger days — and even during his time at Garden Plaza.
“I was very active, played all sports and enjoyed working out,” he said. “I taught Tai Chi (at the Garden Plaza) and used to do swimming every day.”
But it’s not just being active that Murphy said has kept him alive; it’s his servant’s heart.
“Helping others (has kept me going),” Murphy said. “Anytime you can help someone, help them.”
We honor you, Edward Murphy.