Gerald Milton Murphy, 93, of Houston, son of James Milton Murphy and Florence Jones Murphy, died Sunday, Aug. 29, 2010, at Texas County Memorial Hospital.
Mr. Murphy was born July 14, 1917, in Hoyt, Colo., where he lived until age 9, when he moved with his family to Texas County.
He graduated from Houston High School in 1935 after attending rural schools at White Rock, Pine Ridge and Plum Valley. During his senior year his family relocated to Colorado, and he boarded with Alva and Irene Jones.
With a diploma in hand, Gerald anxiously returned to his Colorado roots to work on his uncle’s ranch for three years. The trip back home was an adventure as he hitched a ride to Albuquerque, took a bus to Denver and a train to his destination, the farm of his aunt and uncle in Wiggins, Colo. When he arrived there, heavy rains had washed a bridge out. He found his parents looking for him on the other side of the stream.
Gerald’s interest in aviation engineering began when he took a correspondence course while working at a grain elevator in Wiggins. With knowledge of how to read blueprints, Gerald and his friends traveled to California in 1940, where they heard the aviation manufacturing business was thriving. Quickly he gained employment with Douglas Aircraft Co., where he worked for 32 years. With World War II under way, the aircraft business was thriving. The company produced nearly 30,000 aircraft from 1942 to 1946 and employment swelled.
As the company prospered, so did Gerald’s career. He traveled frequently to Douglas Aircraft sites in the country, troubleshooting problems and aiding in the firm’s growth. In 1944, he married Kathleen Branden. She died in 1973, and he remained in California.
A HHS class reunion invitation brought him back to Missouri in the early 1980s. While home, he reacquainted himself with the area and his former neighbor, Virginia Myers Altis, who he became acquainted with on the school bus.
As Gerald told the story, it took several long-distance calls to Texas County to convince Virginia to become his bride.
In 1982, he arrived on South U.S. 63 driving his trusty 1967 red GMC truck and goodies in a cedar chest. Finally, Virginia had agreed to a marriage.
Retirement years were busy for the Murphys. When they weren’t traveling somewhere in the United States, they could be found on their property. A garage and workshop soon was constructed…the old pickup needed a home and he needed somewhere to tinker.
Fruit trees were planted. Peaches, apples and cherries harvested. Nearby, the garden was tended and produce was grown for their families and the Houston Senior Center. If he wasn’t working in his yard and garden, he likely was bowling, tackling a farm project or watching a sporting event.
Gerald also became involved in the community. He was active in the Houston Alumni Association, attended the First Baptist Church and supported other organizations. He was a more than 50-year member of the Elks Lodge.
Gerald was preceded in death by his parents; his first wife; and two brothers, J.J. and Billy.
Surviving are his wife; a sister, Wanda Clutch of Springfield; and several nieces and nephews.
Services were 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2010, at Evans Funeral Home Chapel. Burial was in the Emery Cemetery.