Thomas H. Murphy

Jul 11, 2019
Thomas Murphy

Rockland — Thomas Henry Murphy, 77, passed away of natural causes June 12, 2019. Tom was born Feb. 9, 1942, in Brooklyn, N.Y., to William George Murphy and Ethel Rippas Murphy. The family moved to Newburgh, N.Y., where Tom graduated from Newburgh Free Academy in 1959.

Tom enlisted in the Navy after graduation and proudly served five years. He trained and graduated from the Underwater Demolition Team and was a member of SEAL Team Two after President John Kennedy authorized its formation in January 1962. His SEAL family was one that he cherished over the course of his life, often attending reunions in Virginia Beach, Va. After his service, a friend made during a prisoner-of-war training camp convinced him to apply to university. He attended Harvard University, where he graduated with a degree in history in 1968. He met his first wife, Edith Pierce, of Lincoln, Mass., on an airplane when they were both traveling home from St. Thomas. They were married in 1967 and lived in Charlestown, Mass., until he finished college.

A professor of Tom’s was interested in trying to grow oysters and offered him an opportunity to start an oyster farm in Tomales Bay, Calif. They made the cross-country trip to Tomales, where he raised oysters for several years, before they moved back east to be closer to family. A lover of projects and all things historic, Tom found an old Cape in Waldoboro that hadn’t been lived in for 40 years to fix up.

In 1977 he moved with Edie and their two children, Leila and Oren, into the house, which, like most old houses, never quite got finished. Tom raised oysters on the Damariscotta River, served in the Waldoboro Police Department, later worked on the Seabrook Nuclear Power Plant, did a variety of ad hoc demolition and carpentry jobs, and then worked for a number of years as a welder and ship fitter on naval destroyers at Bath Iron Works. He had two more children, Caitlin and Finn, with Catherine M. Kimball of Farmington.

Tom was well-traveled, well-read, and was never afraid to share his opinions, solicited or not, about the current state of the world and U.S. politics. He had a curious mind, which led him to meet interesting people, explore new places, and to have a working knowledge about a vast range of topics. Tom was raised in the Catholic Church, and his enduring search for meaning led him to seek spiritual guidance from many churches, ashrams and faith leaders throughout his life. He had particular attachments to Eknath Easwaran, founder of the Blue Mountain Center of Meditation, and to Mother Meera.

Tom had eclectic interests and hobbies, among them karate, archery, wooden boat building, meditation, photography, jewelry-making, forging and stamp collecting. He was a lover of art and enjoyed gallery openings and collecting pieces, both locally and abroad. A lifelong weapons enthusiast, he also spent significant time at the range or behind his house in Waldoboro on target practice. He was a lover of all of God’s furry creatures and befriended innumerable cats, dogs, skunks and other animals that found their way to his house.

Tom was prepared for any occasion, and many have said over the years that if there were ever an emergency Tom was the person they’d want with them, as he’d know just what to do. He was known to be solitary, but was quite sociable at the same time, and loved having a local place to go for a cup of coffee, to read and connect with friends and strangers alike. He was a fixture at Moody’s Diner in Waldoboro for many years, where he often held court from his perch on the corner stool. After moving to Rockland, he was a frequent sight at Rock City Café with his trusty sidekick and service dog, Cecil.

Tom is survived by his children, Leila Murphy and her partner, Roger Greeley, of Portsmouth, N.H., Oren Murphy and his wife, Ermina Sokou, of Bangkok, Caitlin Murphy and her partner, Gabe Golden, of Niskayuna, N.Y., Finn Murphy of Corvallis, Ore.; his sister, Joan Cacchio, of Minoa, N.Y.; his brother, William Murphy, and wife Mary of Newburgh, N.Y.; grandsons Odysseus Murphy and Leonidas Murphy; his ex-wife, Cynthia Thomas, of Hallowell; and many nieces, nephews, cousins, and dear friends. Tom is also survived by his two cats, Percy and Zoe, and his faithful companion and service dog, Cecil. He was predeceased by his parents and his ex-wife Edith Pierce Murphy.

A memorial service will be held Saturday, Aug. 3, at 3 p.m. at Steel House South, 639 Main St., Rockland, followed by a reception next door at the Apprenticeshop. Casual dress, bright colors, and florals are encouraged for the memorial service, as his family wishes to focus on celebrating Tom’s life, rather than mourning his passing. In keeping with Tom’s wishes, he will be buried at sea from the Navy UDT-SEAL Museum in Fort Pierce, Fla during its annual muster Nov. 10.

His children welcome any stories and photos that people are willing to share to help paint the broader picture of the person he was to the many he called friends over his life.  Stories and photos can be emailed to Leila Murphy, or sent by mail to 71 Cliff Road, Portsmouth, NH 03801.

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