John Michael Murphy, of Alligator Point, passed away peacefully at home with his devoted wife and other family members by his side on Monday, Sept. 21, 2020 after valiantly battling cancer since 2018.
John was born Nov. 10, 1959 in Tallahassee, to Vergie and Simmie Murphy. John grew up in Tallahassee and graduated from Florida State University with a degree in American history. He worked diligently and loyally for 30 years for the Florida legislature.
When retirement was finally within reach, John accepted it with grace and devoted his time to fully enjoying the freedom to bird locally and abroad. John had a brilliant mind and his recall of the hundreds of bird books he studied was nothing short of miraculous. He was generous with his time and knowledge, and if you ever had the opportunity to bird beside him, you would find his excitement contagious and his wit unparalleled.
His post-retirement “hobby jobs” with Audubon, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission focused on tracking, banding and maintaining data on nesting shorebirds along Florida’s Panhandle coast, from St. Marks to Cape San Blas and including St. Vincent Island. He also served many years on the records committee for the Florida Ornithological Society documenting rare bird observations within Florida. He was a masterful and meticulous recordkeeper devoted to maintaining different records, including his bird sightings (just over 700 species in the lower 48 states and 2,741 worldwide species).
Besides birding, John loved sailing, travelling, saltwater fishing, the study of Florida history, Highwaymen art and FSU football. Because John was a man of few words who only spoke of himself if asked, three things that many may not have known about him: He spent six months of his childhood in Australia; he was on a bowling league; and he grew up on what is now known as the site of Mission San Luis and his family lived in one of the historical buildings.
John was a committed community servant in Franklin County and Alligator Point where he resided for the past 30 years. He was a longtime volunteer firefighter for Alligator Point and held many posts with the Alligator Point Taxpayers Association. He also served on the Franklin County planning and zoning committee for many years where he was always considered the voice of reason.
In addition to the enormous void that John leaves in the birding community, he leaves the following loved ones to cherish his memory: his wife of 24 years, Deanna Greene Murphy; his brother, Tim (Patrick Timothy Murphy, of Tallahassee) and nephew, Patrick Murphy, of Monteagle, Tennessee; his beloved “Aunt Jeb”(Geraldine Murphy, of San Francisco, California); his sister-in-law and brother-in-law, Stephanie and Paul Parker and nephews, Mitchell and Jack Parker (Alligator Point); his mother-in-law, Jane Greene (Tallahassee); his niece and nephew, Jennifer Greene (Michigan) and Marc Greene (Kentucky).
Besides his passionate obsession with birding, John will be remembered for his magical smile and infectious laughter, as well as his genuine respect for others. He lived his life by the Golden Rule to “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” This world needs more John Murphys and it has lost a great one with his passing. In lieu of flowers, it was John’s wish for donations to be made to the Second Harvest of the Big Bend.
A Celebration of Life service will be held Sunday, Sept. 27 at 2 p.m. with a reception to follow until 4 p.m. at Culley’s Funeral Home in Tallahassee.
This article originally appeared on The Apalachicola Times: John Michael Murphy