George D. Murphy, 85, a retired English professor at Villanova University, died Monday, Dec. 22, of pulmonary complications at Roxborough Memorial Hospital.

Known for his wit and stylish dress, Mr. Murphy began teaching at the Catholic university on the Main Line in 1954 and retired 46 years later, in 2000. But he kept his hand in teaching, offering literature classes to fellow retirees at Cathedral Village in Philadelphia, the retirement community where he lived.

"He was very engaging," said daughter Karen Murphy Cain. "Everyone wanted to have him at their dinner table."

As a scholar, Mr. Murphy wrote about authors including Edgar Allan Poe, Ernest Hemingway, and F. Scott Fitzgerald, and coauthored a textbook for business students, Write Up the Ladder.

He and his late wife, June Lytel, a Villanova colleague, shared a love of England and traveled there often until her death in 2010.

Born in Chicago, he was home-schooled early on by his mother in Crow Agency, Mont., then entered third grade in Pine Ridge, S.D., and graduated from high school in Asheville, N.C. His father ran hospitals on reservations for the U.S. Indian Service, now known as the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

At 16, he started at the University of Notre Dame as a premed major but later switched to English. He earned a bachelor's degree at 19 and a master's from Notre Dame in 1951.

He began work on his doctorate in American civilization at the University of Pennsylvania in 1952, but service in the Army and part-time teaching at Villanova delayed completion of his dissertation until 1964.

Mr. Murphy was stationed near Mannheim, West Germany, with the 301st Radio Broadcasting and Leaflet Group during the Korean War, and then in Munich, where he worked as a disc jockey and news anchor for the American Forces Network.

He married Mary Lou Craig in 1956 and they had two daughters. The couple divorced, and in 1987, he married Lytel.

In addition to his daughter, Mr. Murphy is survived by daughter Laura Murphy Durkin; five grandchildren; and his former wife.

A memorial service is planned at Villanova University for mid-January.

Contributions can be made to A Love for Life, which raises money for pancreatic cancer research, 117 N. Lincoln Ave., Newtown, Pa. 18940, or www.aloveforlife.us.

ssnyder@phillynews.com

215-854-4693 @ssnyderinq