John Richard (Dick) Murphy died mid-stride while hunting his favorite area – the McCormick Creek drainage in the Ninemile Valley, only two miles from home. Many thanks to the throng of Ninemilers who scoured the area looking for their missing neighbor and friend. On horseback, ATVs and on foot, these good people joined Missoula County Search and Rescue to bring John home. Ultimately, his brother Carl found him on a quiet hillside.
John’s brother Carl (Missoula) and sister Pat (Hamilton) along with his wife Karen and new pup Myra (Ninemile Valley), will miss this good man who had an abiding love for bratwurst, fix-it projects and impromptu fun with friends.
Born on April 24, 1952 to Dan and Celes Murphy, John grew up in Missoula and graduated from Hellgate High School. Drafted at the very tail end of the Vietnam era, he spent time in Germany with the US Army before his honorable discharge.
A Renaissance guy and a jack-of-all trades, John owned and operated Self Esteem Barber Styling (on East Broadway in Missoula) for years. He moved on to handle project management for asphalt paving operations and then delivered propane for Energy Partners. He finished his working years with a long tenure in materials management/supply on Alaska’s North Slope. This final work gig afforded him a two week on/two week off schedule, and he commuted from Missoula to Prudhoe Bay.
John met his wife Karen when, as a poor grad student, she wandered into his business for a haircut in 1984. Married for 33 years, they enjoyed backpacking, biking, hiking, and traveling – and a succession of adopted Labs have filled their lives with doghair and joy. Adored by Karen’s family, John endured endless good-natured teasing from his in-laws and surprised us all with come-back zingers that had us bent over, dying with laughter. John happily identified as a “Cheesehead by marriage” and many trips to visit Karen’s family in northern Wisconsin have left us with a cache of raucous memories.
Meticulous, mechanical, creative, and quick to laugh, he was a little guy with a big heart.
John’s ashes, along with those of his many Labs, will be scattered on the hillside where he was found. A fun and joyful celebration of a life well lived will be held on June 8, 2024, at the Ninemile Community Center. Please keep this date in mind.
In lieu of flowers, please send your support to the Humane Society of Western Montana or Missoula County Search and Rescue.
John left us in an instant, doing what he loved in a place he cherished. What an exit!