Elmer F. Murphy Jr., 95, of Wawa, a retired insurance executive who was an energetic community activist in his senior years, died of a respiratory infection April 25 at Riddle Memorial Hospital in Media.
Mr. Murphy graduated from Camden High School. At 18, he got a job in the mailroom at Keystone Insurance Co. in Philadelphia. While working, he attended the Brown School of Business in Philadelphia and took courses at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He was eventually promoted to management positions at Keystone.
During World War II, he served in Army Intelligence under the command of Gen. Leslie R. Groves, military director of the Manhattan Project, which produced the atomic bomb.
After his discharge, he returned to Keystone. He retired at 62 as general manager and senior vice president. Four months later, he became managing secretary of the Pennsylvania Insurance Guaranty Association and also was a consultant to the Pennsylvania Life and Health Guaranty Association. He retired again at 74.
He and his wife, Loretta Walter Murphy, whom he had met at Keystone, raised two children in Springfield, Delaware County. They were members of the First Presbyterian Church of Springfield, where Mr. Murphy was a trustee, elder, and clerk of sessions. He was a former trustee on the Springfield Township Pension Board.
Since 1987, the Murphys had lived at Granite Farms Estates, a retirement community in Wawa. Shortly after moving there, Mr. Murphy responded to residents' complaints about poor television reception by persuading Suburban Cable to agree to wire the community for cable and to institute an in-house television channel. Later, when a fund-raising campaign to buy a new piano at Granite Farms stalled, he took it over and raised $41,000 in a month to buy a Steinway. Granite Run recently held its 153d concert in the Steinway Program Series. An enthusiastic vegetable gardener, Mr. Murphy initiated a plant sale to raise money for a tool shed at the retirement community. He was also a talented furniture-maker who crafted several grandfather clocks and was secretary of the Granite Farms Wood Shop Committee. He established the Wall Street Group at the retirement community, to discuss financial issues, and invited the group's speakers. Mr. Murphy was a founding member of the Area Council of Life Care Communities.
He had a persuasive personality, his son, Bud, said, and was raised to believe that he could do anything. He passed that credo on to his children, his son said, along with the axioms: "Walk right up like you own the place" and "If you absolutely have to do something, especially something you'd rather not do, do it graciously."
In addition to his wife and son, Mr. Murphy is survived by daughter Carole-Anne Hill; a sister; and a brother.
A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. June 5 at Granite Farms Estates, 1343 W. Baltimore Pike, Wawa, Pa. 19063.
Donations may be made to the Samaritan Fund at Granite Farms Estates.