Martha Whelan Murphy 1920-2022 | News, Sports, Jobs
YOUNGSTOWN — After an epic and well-lived life, Martha Ann Whelan Murphy was peacefully called into eternity on Wednesday, January 12, 2022, surrounded by the love of her family.
Martha was the youngest of four children of Raymond E. Whelan MD and surgical nurse, Margaret Gallagher Whelan, born in Youngstown, August 24, 1920, and raised at 620 Belmont Ave., (now the Dorothy Day House), a few blocks from St. Elizabeth Youngstown Hospital, which Dr. Whelan helped found and organize as the first chief medical staff. A true “convent-educated” Catholic, Martha graduated from Ursuline Academy in 1933, Villa Maria High School in 1937, and Seton Hill College in 1941. The Ursulines, the Sisters of Humility of Mary, and the Sisters of Charity all left a deep impression on the young Martha Whelan, instilling values of faith and budding intellect that served her devoted heart and sharp mind well throughout her long and accomplished life of 101 years.
Martha married attorney Robert M. Murphy of Youngstown on October 4, 1947. Together the Murphys raised five children, four boys and a girl, on the North Side, first on New York Avenue and later on Selma Avenue. Martha’s husband, Bob, was a founding partner in 1959 of the prominent labor law firm, Green, Schiavoni, Murphy, Haines, Sgambati LLC. Mrs. Murphy pursued a number of community interests during her child-rearing years in the 1950s and 1960s, including her service as President of the Mahoning County Bar Auxiliary, President of the Diocesan Board of Catholic women and, with her husband, as a counsellor. young people engaged in pre-Cana.
Even before her marriage, Martha was making a difference in the lives of God’s poor as a Catholic social worker. She took graduate courses at Ohio State University in the fall of 1941 before accepting a job with the Cleveland Catholic Service League in 1942. When the new Catholic Diocese of Youngstown was founded in May 1943, in At the age of 22, Martha became field director for Portage County, finding time to use her keyboard skills to play piano/organ for church and school masses.
After her first volunteer career ended in 1969, with the youngest Murphy children well advanced in their studies at St. Edward’s School and Ursuline High School, Martha returned to her roots in social work, starting a three-year stint as Assistant to the Director of Catholic Charities at the Chancery office in downtown Youngstown. Her thoughtful work with senior-centered programming for the diocese caught the attention of Youngstown Mayor Jack C. Hunter in 1972, who asked Ms. Murphy to establish a pilot program for seniors’ services for the city. Ms. Murphy’s administrative abilities were well recognized at the state level. When the Ohio Region agencies on aging were established, with substantial increases in program budget and staff accompanying the new social service network, it was Martha Murphy who was chosen by agency officials. State to Build from Scratch the Four-County Aging, Inc. District 11 Area Agency. Ms. Murphy served as the agency’s founding executive director from 1975 to 1991. She also served as an elected delegate of the Midwest Region on the National Council of Regional Agencies on Aging and chaired the national convention in the early 1980s.
In her 60s, Martha returned to graduate school as a candidate for a master’s degree in social administration from the Mandel School at Case Western Reserve University. Something of a campus sensation as a non-traditional student, Ms. Murphy received her MSSA with honors in 1985. Her agency, District 11, continued to thrive in the final years before her retirement in June 1991, creating model programs to enable older people to stay at home with support services, including meals on wheels, home health aides, transportation and access to senior centers for social engagement . Ms. Murphy’s efforts on behalf of Ohio seniors earned her a place in the Ohio Seniors Hall of Fame, where her photo was displayed at the state fairgrounds.
Other notable honors given to Martha for her life’s work include the Distinguished Alumni Leadership Award from Seton Hill University and the Distinguished Service Award from the National Association of Social Workers.
Upon her professional retirement, Mrs. Murphy looked to an ever-growing family of grandchildren (14) and great-grandchildren (now 19+). She became a master gardener for the Davis Education and Visitor Center in Mill Creek Park, serving for years as a volunteer horticultural resource at its library. She put in many hours, even in the mid-90s, making ribbon bows for fall/Christmas decorations on the grounds of Fellows Riverside Gardens and Lanterman’s Mill. She loved gardening and sharing ideas with other passionate gardeners. She also organized (and dominated) her bridge groups at the YCC, enjoying golf and travel.
Mrs. Murphy is survived by five children, R. Terrance (Mickee) Murphy of Ravenna, Mary Eileen (Judge Patrick) Cunning of Campbell, the Reverend Richard Murphy, president of Ursuline High School and pastor of St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Mineral Ridge and St. Stephen’s Catholic Church, Niles; James B. (Christie) Murphy of Wyoming, Ohio; and Kevin M. (Theresa) Murphy of Cortland.
She was predeceased by her parents; her husband in 1994; his sisters, Dorothy Fannon and Margaret Mary Kirk; and his brother, Robert Whelan.
“Grammy”, “Aunt Martha” and, of course, “Mom” will forever hold a huge place in the hearts of a clan that loved her dearly as she loved them all.
Martha Murphy will be celebrated in faith with calling hours from 2 p.m. to 4:45 p.m. in her longtime parish, St. Edward in Youngstown, on Monday, January 17, 2022.
Monsignor David Bonnar will preside over the Christian funeral mass scheduled for 5 p.m. Monday. A private family burial service will be held at Calvary Cemetery the following day.
The family and funeral home require that all people attending roll call times and/or funerals wear a mask or face covering to enter the church and maintain social distancing in regards to the COVID pandemic -19.
There are many appropriate charitable courses that would honor Martha Murphy’s expansive values and visions. But two places for memorial donations, in lieu of flowers, particularly support her and her family’s wishes: The Robert and Martha W. Murphy Scholarship c/o Ursuline High School Endowment Fund, Inc., 750 Wick Ave., Youngstown, OH 44505 and The Dr. Raymond E. Whelan Legacy Society, c/o Mercy Health Foundation Mahoning Valley, 250 DeBartolo Place, No. 2560, Youngstown, OH 44512.
The Murphy family express their deep gratitude for Martha’s quality medical care over the past few months and days, especially the late Dr. Gregory Zinni and his family medicine group, Dr. Cynthia Kravec of Mercy Health, the dedicated nurses of mom, Diane, Kim, Millie, Caitlin and Theresa from within our family. You are all forever in our hearts. The end support provided by the Mercy Hospice House team is also greatly appreciated. Throughout her years, Martha W. Murphy has embodied the personal motto of her favorite, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton: “Hazard yet forward.”
May we who survive and cherish her do the same.
Thoughts and condolences may be sent to the funeral home’s website: www.mccauleyfuneral.com.
Arrangements by McCauley Funeral Home. Privileged to serve the Valley since 1902.