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Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

MURPHY, JOHN PATRICK

MURPHY, JOHN PATRICK

MURPHY, JOHN PATRICK (25 April 1887-15 July 1969) was a lawyer and businessman whose railroad expertise led to his association with the VAN SWERINGENS and The HIGBEE COMPANY, a Van Sweringen interest acquired in 1929. He established the JOHN P. MURPHY FOUNDATION to promote his interest in Catholic education, hospitals, and music.

Born in Westboro, Massachusetts, Murphy attended Holy Cross College, l906-1908, and received his law degree from Notre Dame University in l912. Admitted to the Minnesota bar in 1913, he practiced in Minneapolis until 1915 when he moved to Montana and focused on railroad law. In 1917 he enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corp. In 1918 Murphy became senior counsel for the U.S. Spruce Products Corp. in Portland, Oregon.

His work with railroads attracted the attention of the Van Sweringens who brought Murphy to Cleveland. Between 1920-1937, he helped develop the Van Swerigens' real estate and railroad interests and served as director of several of their companies.

Murphy's association with Higbees began in 1937 when he was named an executor of O.P. Van Sweringen's will. Together with Charles Bradley, they took control of the company with Bradley as president and Murphy as secretary. Murphy served as president and director of Higbee's from 1944-1962, chairman, 1962-1968 and honorary chairman, l968-69. Murphy continued his law practice as partner in the firm of Morley, Stickle and Murphy in l941, and Morley, Stickle, Keeley and Murphy in 1944.

Murphy married Gladys Tate on 30 June 1924. They had no children. Murphy is buried in St. Luke's Cemetery, Westboro, Massachusetts.