James Edward Murphy was born September 3, 1945, to Margaret Elizabeth (Dwyer) Murphy, and Francis Eugene Murphy. He was raised in Fairport, NY with three brothers – Dennis, William, and John. Jim was the third in the line of the Murphy boys. After a 4 ½ year survival with Stage 4 cancer, Jim passed on June 29, 2023.

Anyone who knew Jim knew what a force of nature he was. After serving in the Air Force in Vietnam, he became actively involved in the peace movement, joining Vietnam Veterans Against the War and Veterans for Peace. In 1971, he was one of the coordinators of the Dewey Canyon III action, in which Vietnam Veterans threw their medals back on the Capitol steps in protest of the war. He was also one of 14 Vietnam Veterans Against the War who took over the Statue of Liberty on December 26, 1971. His experiences in Vietnam galvanized a lifelong commitment to working for peace and justice.

Jim attended the University of Maryland where he studied Special Education and Outdoor Education. He did graduate work in Alternative Education at Indiana University.

Jim’s career as an educator included the Shon Tai Wilderness School in Virginia, and the Hillside School for Children in Rochester. For the final 23 years of his career, he served whole-heartedly and passionately as Dean of Students at the Edward A. Reynolds West Side High School in New York City. 

Jim met and married musician Susan Mondzak in New York City in 1985. In 1992 their partnership extended into their professional lives, creating the Teen Talk Radio program, and extending their family to all of their students. Their son, Corey Marcus Murphy, was born in 1988….the absolute pride of their lives. Jim loved his family more than words can ever say.

Jim and Eugene. Credit: Photo provided

In retirement, Jim and Susan moved to Ithaca in 2009, fully embracing the community. Jim helped launch the fledgling radio station WRFI, and was their morning show host for 5 years. Jim was a mentor and advocate for military veterans struggling with PTSD from their tours in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He co-led the local chapter of Warrior Writers. His lifelong activism included serving on the National Council of the Fellowship of Reconciliation.

A love of the Adirondacks, railroad antiques, and golden retrievers were among his other passions. A celebration of Jim’s life will take place at the First Unitarian Society of Ithaca on July 22nd, at 2:00 pm. Jim is survived by his wife Susan and son Corey, his daughter-in-law Sheila Sullivan Murphy, and his grandson Eugene James Murphy. He is also survived by brothers John (Janice), and Dennis, his nieces and nephews Caitlin, Brian, Lisa, Matt, Mike, Tim, Erin, and Kathy—and all the students and friends who loved him.

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