Anna Murphy was born in the Upper West Side of Manhattan to Irish immigrant parents Michael Joseph Murphy and Jane McNamee Murphy, joining her brother Bob. While she was still a young child the family returned to Limerick, Ireland where her parents built a home in Corbally, Limerick. Sadly, her mother died from pernicious anemia when Anna was about seven years old. Anna’s stepmother Una joined the Murphy family in a few years, and then came Suzanne, Noelle and Michael. Anna attended Laurel Hill School and Bruff Convent School in County Limerick, and once she graduated, left Ireland to join the Sisters of the Holy Cross of Notre Dame, Indiana as a teaching sister. As Sister Jeanne Marie, she taught elementary education and reading to students in Catholic schools in Indiana and later in Northern Virginia.
When she was twenty-three, Anna left religious life and moved to New York City where she worked as a secretary for AT&T while putting herself through Fordham University. She earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education. She met her husband, David Murphy, at a German restaurant in Manhattan by chance in 1961, laughing about the name that they shared. They married in 1962, forming a family with David’s beloved beagle Snoopy, and moving into his apartment in Brooklyn, New York. Soon came daughters Jeanne, Susan, and Anne, whom she cherished. They lived for 10 years in Brooklyn Heights until the suburbs called, and they bought a white Dutch colonial on Litchfield Road in Port Washington, New York in 1973. During this time of raising her children, Anna started graduate work in reading and literacy at New York University, and finished her master’s degree there in 1976. David died suddenly in 1977 of a heart attack at 44 years of age, while on a business trip to London, England. After this tragedy, Anna raised her girls as a single parent. She served as a substitute teacher and worked her way into a full-time teaching position in the Port Washington Union Free School District, becoming an elementary and middle school reading specialist and union steward. She worked tirelessly to encourage her children’s educational aspirations. She was fiercely proud that her three daughters all attended Brown University, and went on to graduate school at Columbia University, Yale University, University of Washington, Tufts University and Johns Hopkins University.
Anna loved teaching reading. She was laser focused on tailoring reading instruction for her students’ individual abilities, caring most deeply for the neediest students. Generations of students in the Port Washington schools benefitted from her passion for phonics and other evidence-based reading instruction methods. Later after retiring at age 73 years, Anna took on grandmotherhood as her next passion and taught all of her 8 grandchildren to read as toddlers. She loved to travel to Ireland and the family home in Limerick, where she told stories about the long bicycle trips that she and friends took out to ruined castles in County Limerick. She spoke highly of her all-Gaelic education, although complained that learning mathematics in Gaelic was the reason why she found math so challenging. Anna loved reading mysteries and took many Great Courses on art, literature and history. After living in Port Washington for over 40 years, she moved to Silver Spring, Maryland, and finally to Melrose, Massachusetts, to be closer to family.
Anna was the beloved wife of the late David A. Murphy. Loving mother of Jeanne M. Murphy-Stone & her husband Paul of MD, Susan Murphy & her husband Paul Sullivan of Melrose and Anne Murphy & her husband Raghavendra Rao K.V. of British Columbia. Cherished grandmother of Katya, Daniel, Sonia, Bridget, David, Ailish, Aidan and Kabir. Caring sister of Robert Murphy & his wife Rose of NJ, Suzanne Murphy of Wales, Noelle Bannon & her husband Peter and Michael Murphy & his wife Henrietta, all of Ireland. Also survived by nieces, nephews, relatives & friends.
A mass of Christian Burial will be held at St. Peter of Alcantara Roman Catholic Church, Port Washington, NY on Saturday, May 25th, at 9:30 AM. Relatives & friends are respectfully invited to attend. In lieu of flowers contributions may be made in Anna’s memory to the Dyslexia Foundation at www.dyslexiafoundation.org.