Fort Collins lost an undersized chieftain Sunday, March 13, when Vincent “Vince” Murphy died after a three-year battle with congestive heart failure. He was 78.
Murphy was born on July 30, 1943, in Brooklyn, New York. A bright student but much too short to ever play for the Brooklyn Dodgers, he focused on academics and was one of few in his neighborhood to attend college. That step dramatically changed the course of his life, and it was a fact that he never forgot.
After receiving his bachelor’s degree from Manhattan College in 1965 he was working toward his doctorate at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst when he met Kathleen Kelley, an undergraduate who was the life of every party. He had strong ideas about the right way to do most things and she knew just how to show him up. They were good for each other and they knew it, though admitting so would violate their rules of engagement.
The couple and their son, Christopher, came to Fort Collins in 1977 when Murphy accepted an offer to join the newly formed Department of Agricultural and Chemical Engineering at Colorado State University. He was noted for research in the use of agricultural byproducts to create fuel and he eventually became the head of that department, but what he treasured about his 28-year career at CSU was his time with undergraduates. He won one of the university’s Best Teacher Awards in 2005 and his files at home (he filed everything) are filled with grateful testimonials from former students who described his intolerance for laziness but eagerness to help those who wanted to learn, often over a beer (or two).
Murphy loved traveling, cycling, and doo-wop music from his 1950s youth. He loved craft beer from before that phrase existed and he loved CSU sports, even when they didn’t love him back, which was more often than not.
Most of all, he loved his friends and family.
He never forgot a birthday and often traveled great distances in his retirement to see old friends and attend family reunions. And he was generous — stunningly so. Among the many nonprofits he supported were the Colorado State University Foundation, through which he created scholarships in the names of five of his former colleagues. He also established the funding for the Kathy Murphy Speaker Series, now known as Clearview Reads, for the Clearview Library District, of which Kathy was director until 1999.
Murphy was preceded in death by his parents, James and Rita Murphy, and by his wife, Kathy.
He is survived by his son, Chistopher (Amy Rountree) and their children Helen and Rowan Murphy; by his brother, Donald (Kelly) Murphy and their daughters Annie and Maggie; and by Donald’s daughters Kerry (Tony) Zostant and Kiera (Daniel) Murphy-Regnerus.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests contributions be made to nonprofits that support higher education.
Bohlender Funeral Chapel is handling arrangements. A celebration of life service will take place at 4 p.m. Friday, March 18, in the Cherokee Park room, Lory Student Center, Colorado State University, Fort Collins. The event will be livestreamed. Contact CSU’s Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering at firstname.lastname@example.org for information.
As news of his passing started to circulate, warm sentiments were repeated by faculty, students, and others in the university community who had known him. Alumni who graduated many years ago continue to be moved by his efforts. read more