Robert L. “Bob” Murphy, age 87, died at Memorial Medical Center April 30, 2015 after a brief illness. He and his wife Delores Black Murphy celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary on December 11, 2014. Bob was a longtime resident of Key Colony Beach, FL where he insisted “the sun always shines”. Since their marriage, he and Delores also maintained a home in Springfield until recently.
Bob was born in Detroit, MI on January 23, 1928 to Charles and Emma Shaw Hewitson. He spent his early years in Spalding, IL. Following the death of his father, Emma remarried and he became the stepson of Frank J. Murphy at age 11. As a teen, Bob traveled extensively and lived in various locations throughout the country with Frank and Emma, eventually settling in Springfield where he met Delores and graduated from Lanphier High School.
After high school, he followed Frank into the plumbing and pipefitting trade as an apprentice with U.A. Plumbers, Steamfitters, & Refrigeration Fitters Local 137 of Springfield. Following several years of training he became a Journeyman Steamfitter, while also achieving a Master Plumber’s license, and was employed with several companies for a short period. He then began his own firm and named it F. J. MURPHY & SON, INC. to honor his stepfather. He retired as President in 1992; the firm continues to operate both as a family business and the oldest plumbing and heating organization in Springfield. In 1970, Bob added a fire sprinkler division to his company; it remains the first and oldest fire sprinkler company in central Illinois. He sponsored and provided career opportunities for many young people as apprentices, designers, and estimators in the piping trades. Throughout his life he was always one of the first to help others achieve success.
As a younger man Bob was a very accomplished powerboat racer, competing throughout the U.S. & Canada and winning many events including two world championships. Following his retirement from racing, he subsequently achieved a U.S. Coast Guard Licensed Captain status with a 100-ton rating. He owned and operated a number of private motor yachts over the years, personally cruising his yachts throughout Florida and the Caribbean, including to such places as the Bahamas, Cuba, Mexico, Belize, Honduras, and Guatemala. One of his memorable boating experiences of many years ago was running his first large boat from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida to the Mississippi River at New Orleans and on up to St. Louis and eventually to Chicago.
Bob was very proud of his career service in the U.S. Navy Reserve where he achieved the rank of Senior-Chief Officer as a Seabee (Construction Battalion). He actually remained on active reserve status until his death. He loved his country and was an unwavering conservative patriot in every sense.
He also owned the Keys Sea Center Marina in Big Pine Key, FL for nearly three decades and was the founder of the former West Side Marine in Springfield, IL. Additionally, he was the original owner and developer of the Prairie Grove Subdivision in Chatham, IL, and was an early partner in B & D Building Systems of Springfield. He later co-founded and developed the American Center in Springfield, and was an investor in a number of other Springfield businesses.
Bob was a former member of the Springfield Underwater Search & Rescue Team (SUSART). He was a very accomplished scuba diver and an accomplished shipwreck diver, continually traveling the world in his pursuit of that sport. In 1985, in cooperation with National Geographic and the University of Illinois, on request he accompanied a group of high-school students as the chief divemaster on a two-month learning excursion to China and Japan. He further enjoyed saltwater fishing and participated in a number of professional tournaments. Bob was an extremely active waterfowl hunter and longtime member of the Allen Gun Club on the Illinois River. He also enjoyed hunting trips to the Dakotas, Mexico, and Argentina, and especially cherished time spent on these sports accompanied by his grandson.
Bob was a past member of both the Aqua Sports Club and Island Bay Yacht Club on Lake Springfield, and was a member of Marathon Yacht Club in Marathon, FL.
He served in various officer capacities including president at the Mechanical Contractors Association of Central Illinois. As such, he was also chairman of many management/labor committees with Plumbers Local 137 including Pension, Health & Welfare, Apprenticeship, and Labor Negotiations, and was the original co-founder of the Local 137 Plumbers & Pipefitters Pension Fund. Bob was a charter member of the National Fire Sprinkler Association.
Besides his parents, he was preceded in death by several aunts, uncles, and cousins, and his very special cat “Thor.”
In addition to his wife Delores, Bob is survived by a daughter Pam Pasko (husband John) of Springfield & Key Colony Beach, a grandson Michael Robert Pasko (wife Victoria Anne) of Washington, DC, several cousins, extended family, and a multitude of friends. His companion cat “Tango” also survives.
A visitation is scheduled for Thursday May 7th, 2015 from 5 to 7 PM, with a funeral service on Friday morning May 8th, 10:30 AM, both at Staab Funeral Home, 1109 S. 5th St., Springfield. Friday’s service will be followed by inurnment and full military services at Camp Butler National Cemetery. A memorial service will be held on the ocean waters off Marathon in the Florida Keys later in the year, one of Bob’s favorite spots.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that tax-deductible contributions be made to the “Wounded Warrior Project” to honor the life of Robert L. Murphy. The address for “Wounded Warrior Project” is: P.O. Box 758517, Topeka, Kansas 66675.
Date: Thursday, May 7, 2015
Time: 05:00 pm - 07:00 pm
Date: Friday, May 8, 2015
Time: 10:30 am
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