MICHAEL FITZGERALD MURPHY
Born: March 22, 1961
Died March 13, 2022
Michael Fitzgerald Murphy – aka Mike, Murph, Uncle Mike – of Ottawa, Illinois left this world on March 13, 2022, after living with challenging health problems for several years.
Mike was originally a Jersey Boy, born on March 22, 1961, to Tim and Estelle Murphy from Oradell. He joined a family of four siblings, who delighted in their little blond brother. He tagged along in rambles around the neighborhood and to the local swim club, watching and listening to everything around him from his youngest days. His memories of childhood events and family facts would astonish everyone, especially after a move brought the Murphys to Lake Bluff, Illinois in 1969.
Mike graduated from Lake Forest High School and enrolled in Northern Illinois University, where he majored in Journalism. He was a natural newsman – curious, a graceful writer, and a sharp editor who had inherited his mother’s insistence on good, old-fashioned correct grammar. After graduating from NIU in 1983, he was proud to work for The Daily Leader in Pontiac and then for 25 years for The Times in Ottawa as a reporter, feature writer, sports writer, and editor.
He was loyal - and his loyalties were fierce. Mike loved his family – his sisters, brothers, niece, nephews, and cousins. His friends – especially the Lost Weekend gang - became a second family, and he loved them no less for not being his blood kin. He loved his alma mater and its Huskies (passionately) – but he still had love (and sometimes exasperation) to spare for the Bears and the Cubs. As his sister Katie said: “When the Cubbies won the Series, he was euphoric, and I have no doubt that they won because of his decades-long loyalty.” His visits to Panther Pond in Maine gave him a love of a different landscape and introduced him to a new circle of friends who cherished him – even though he was horrified to find they put blueberries in pancakes!
Mike had a good heart, and he loved his community. He thoroughly enjoyed taking part in his newspaper’s Red Stocking Christmas Fund and shaved his head for Ottawa’s St. Baldrick's drive to raise awareness of childhood cancer. Most recently, he had joined in the fight against COVID-19 as a contact tracer for the state of Illinois, working in the LaSalle County Health Department.
Mike was preceded in death by his parents, Tim and Estelle. He will be sorely missed by Ellen Murphy, Katie Murphy and Peter Lindsay of Maine; Tim Murphy and Marilyn Murphy of Chicago; and Rian Murphy and Janette Murphy of Michigan, along with niece Cristina Lindsay and nephews Matt Lindsay, Thomas Murphy, Timothy Murphy and Joseph Murphy. We are so sad that our newest family member, Sloan Lindsay, daughter of Matt and Abby Lindsay, will not be able to bask in his love for her.
We know that Mike’s legion of friends joins in mourning his loss – especially the honorary Murphys, Cindy and Lonny Cain.
There will be a celebration of Mike’s life at the Dayton Ridge Golf Club in Ottawa on Saturday, March 26 from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m. Memories and stories will begin at 3:30.
Should you care to honor Mike’s memory with a donation, we suggest one to the Ottawa YMCA’s Capital Campaign: https://www.ottawaymca.org/support-the-y/ymca-capital-campaign. Mike was a happy guy in the water, and he loved to swim at the Y. We know that Mike would also like everyone to remember Red Stocking when Christmas rolls around.
Rest in peace, Michael Fitzgerald Murphy - sweetheart, film buff, sports nut, trivia master, faithful alum, super uncle, Ramones aficionado, journalist, wit, great character - and most dear brother and uncle. Your memory is a blessing.